The pandemic has been extremely isolating for many people, but many people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Plus (LGBT+) community have felt the effects of loneliness severely.
The LGBT+ community relies on safe spaces like bars, clubs and general meet-ups with like-minded people to be themselves and relax without fear. Comparisons have even been drawn by some people with churches; LGBT+ safe spaces are sanctuary and safety for many who don’t feel comfortable elsewhere.
A new dedicated befriending service has been launched in Reading to connect the LGBT+ community once more, to give Reading-based people a sense of belonging.
Club F.O.D will provide two services – a ‘tea-friending’ service, providing weekly or fortnightly visits or an ‘e-friending’ service, providing a weekly or fortnightly phone call. The services are available for any LGBT+ people who are over 50 and have limited social connections, or people of any age that are housebound. During the pandemic, the service will be available for anyone over 18 who is feeling isolated and wants to talk to someone.
Jamie Wake, CEO of Club F.O.D, said: “There are still pockets within the community – especially older LGBT+ people – who are socially isolated for a range of reasons from health challenges through to starting life again after becoming widowed.
Our Befriending service will be one of only a handful in the UK that specifically supports the LGBT+ community. Our service will not only provide befriending services to reduce social isolation and loneliness for those eligible but help reconnect individuals with their community.
I’m really proud of all of our volunteers who have helped to get us to this stage and grateful to all of those people who have donated from within the LGBT+ community to make this a community funded service.
The recent launch event at The Blagrave Arms, included a presentation from Jamie, as well as an appearance from Reading’s Mayor.
Jamie finished by saying: “The sad truth is that there are many people socially isolated and suffering from loneliness within Reading across all of the different communities and we all know that there is little funding to tackle this challenge. We’re doing our bit for the local LGBT+ community just because it’s the right thing to do.”
For more information about this new befriending service, please click on this link to their website: http://www.lgbtfriending.co.uk/