Last week the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited the UK’s first permanent shelter for homeless LGBTIQ people after awarding it £50,000 from his Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund.
The Outside Project has moved into the disused Clerkenwell fire station, allowing them to provide a dedicated community centre offering safe daytime refuge, sexual health clinics and co-working space for marginalised groups.
The project also partnered with Stonewall Housing to give vulnerable LGBTIQ people access to wrap-around employment and housing support.
Carla Ecola, founder of The Outside Project, said: “This centre will make an immeasurable difference to our guests who will always be loudly and proudly at the centre of the project. We’re grateful for the support from the Mayor of London, our LGBTIQ community and allies across the country. We can’t thank you enough for standing beside us.”
Khan worked with Islington Council and the London Fire Commissioner to make the building available for homelessness services until long-term plans for the station are made.
The Mayor of London said: “It is wrong that so many buildings across London stand empty when there’s a housing crisis and when they could be used to help homeless Londoners. The level of homelessness is a national disgrace and we need to do all we can to help people off the streets.
The shelter has already moved around – previously finding home in Camden but once existed on Metallica’s old tour bus – it has now been fully funded for a year at the station.
According to the Albert Kennedy Trust, up to 24 per cent of the nation’s young rough sleeping population identify as LGBTIQ.
Stonewall CEO Bob Green called the shelter a space where LGBTIQ people could “celebrate their identity and achieve their full potential”.