Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
Hammersmith & Fulham council has denied plans to close London’s only domestic violence shelter for gay and bisexual men.
A petition on change.org says that ‘the council is reviewing the residential shelter’s contract, which ends in June, and closure is a possibility.’
This would leave the nearest shelter accepting LGBT men in Berkshire, with many men fleeing domestic violence being sent as far as Wales for specialist support.
There is virtually no housing provision for LGBT survivors of domestic abuse in the UK, and according to Stonewall Housing, this lack of resources will lead to increases in homelessness, suicide, self-harm and poor mental health which are already disproportionately prevalent in the LGBT community.
But council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan hit back, telling So So Gay that ‘there are no, and have never been any, plans to close this important facility’.
‘We are proud that Hammersmith and Fulham Council has exclusively funded and is home to London’s only facility that serves as a refuge for gay men who are victims of domestic violence,’ he told us. He said that ‘given the government’s austere cuts to the council’s budget, the authority proposes to seek more sustainable long-term funding arrangements, including asking other councils, the Greater London Authority and others to chip in and support this important project for Londoners.
‘Council officials have been consulting those who use the service about how it works and fears around what this might mean have resulted in a false belief that the facility was under threat. The future of this facility is a political decision and this Labour administration underlines that it is not prepared to see it close – that was never an option for us.’
The rumours come at a time of a funding crisis in LGBT domestic violence support, with helpline Broken Rainbow facing closure, as the Home Office has still not decided whether their funding will be extended for another year.
Jo Harvey Barringer, Broken Rainbow’s Managing Director, says: ‘Our service is comparatively expensive to run as our calls can take a long time due to us offering case work rather than simply a signposting service. Often callers are disclosing their abuse for the first time and the reality is that there is often nowhere to signpost people to.’
‘Other funding options are limited and though we have been lucky enough to bring in some smaller grants it hasn’t been enough to cover the cost of the helpline and an opportunity we had from a corporate body didn’t meet its expectations.’
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