Sunderland's LGBT+ Network receives £190,000 National Lottery funding for new community hub to tackle loneliness

An LGBT+ Network in Sunderland has received almost £200,000 in funding to open a community hub and café in a bid to help reduce isolation and ease feelings of loneliness.

The Sunderland LGBT+ Network C.I.C has received a major cash grant from the National Lottery to open a community hub and café for the local LGBT+ community.

The Wearside project aims to give its members a safe and inclusive space to socialise and connect with others, to help reduce isolation and ease feelings of loneliness.

With concerns the pandemic has left the LGBT+ community in Sunderland with limited spaces to meet following club closures and social events being placed on hold, the hub and café hopes to provide members with access to “guidance, support and opportunities” to enhance their skills and experience.

Members of the Sunderland LGBT+ Network.

Plans for events at the hub include drag cabaret, open-mic nights, and bingo.

Lead organiser of the annual Sunderland Pride event, Lynne Roxborough, says the project, which has secured funding worth £190,185 through the scheme, will also host volunteering and work placements at its café and hub.

She said: "Our LGBT+ community over the past two years has become fragmented and out of touch with one another through not being able to socialise and have our annual Pride event in person.

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“Thanks to National Lottery players, our new funding from the National Community Lottery Fund will enable us to open a café and hub where we will encourage people who are experiencing social isolation and loneliness to meet one another, have a chat, make friends and join in with activities.”

Over the last five years, more than £12 million of National Lottery funding has gone to charities and community groups working to build social connections and address loneliness across Tyne and Wear.

Duncan Nicholson, Head of Regional Funding for the North East and Cumbria at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “People across the country have experienced loneliness and isolation, particularly during the pandemic - being part of a community can really help.

"Thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support thousands of fantastic local projects like Sunderland LGBT+ Network across the UK that are working hard to bring people together, provide opportunities and are having a positive impact on lives.”

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