Local community organisations on the covid-19 lockdown

Rachel Badham August 11, 2020

The University of Brighton’s Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender (CTSG) has recently spoken to organisations in Brighton and Hove that aim to bring about improved gender and sexual diversity in the city, discussing how the lockdown has affected them and how they are operating in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CTSG brings together researchers at the university who are studying sexuality and gender, and describes its core focus to be researching with community partners in a way that positively impacts social policies and practises. By producing a series of short videos with four Brighton based organisations that serve the LGBTQ+ community in the region, CTSG highlights the important work of these community resources, particularly in these challenging times.

Radical Rhizomes is a social hangout space for queer people of colour. Lead organiser Tarik Elmoutawakil says they set up the group as queer people of colour’s experiences are often regarded as ‘secondary’, and the organisation provides a space where these people can make friends with likeminded people.

To stay connected the lockdown, the group held online events such as a dance party, but also found many felt isolated during the period. They have also stated that people of colour have been affected more negatively by the lockdown, but the group still meets every two weeks with a book club starting soon. More information about Radical Rhizomes and how to support the organisation can be found on their website.

The Brighton Rainbow Fund are a grant giving organisation that fund LGBTQ+ projects in Brighton, such as queer BAME and POC projects, as well as organisations for trans people, or young LGBTQ+ people. The Rainbow Fund has still been able to provide funding throughout lockdown, however some of the projects they are supporting haven’t been able to function as usual and so changes have had to be made, such as funding Zoom subscriptions instead of venue hire.

Fundraising events have been cancelled so alternative methods of fundraising have been deployed, but funds are significantly lacking compared to previous years. Donations to the organisation can be made online, and will help support its ability to fund projects.

The Clare Project’s service and development manager Gray Hutchins says the charity is one of the longest standing services for people who are trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming, with the team consisting entirely of trans people. Gray notes that every person’s gender journey is different, and the service involves weekly drop ins and counselling provided by trans identifying counsellors; it can also develop trans inclusion policies for workplaces.

The pandemic has meant that drop ins and workshops have been taking place online, and delays have been placed on many people’s transitioning process. Gray says that allyship is one of the most important things you can do to support the project, such as attending trans pride events, or calling out transphobia in the workplace. More details can be found here.

Terrance Higgins Trust (THT) is a national charity that provides sexual health services, as well as counselling, with the goal of ensuring those living with HIV are safe and receiving the treatment they require. The Brighton office had to be closed due to the lockdown so the service had to be moved online, with lots of work taking place on social media to provide people information about sexual health, and ensure that the BAME community in particular is still able to access support.

The trust has also been able to start a testing programme amongst the homeless community that were given places in hotels during the lockdown. Representatives of the charity say that ‘now is the time to get tested’, and that donations are always welcomed as they help the trust to continue to provide essential services.

The original videos produced by the CTSG can be found here.