Proud2Be CIC

07 October 2020

While huge steps towards legal equality have been made in recent decades, the battle for equality overall is far from over. LGBTQ+ people remain at increased risk of mental ill health due to a range of factors including discrimination and isolation.

When people feel unfair shame or stigma, they become more likely to withdraw from friends and family, and take part in fewer social activities leaving them isolated or experiencing loneliness.  Evidence shows that isolation has the same effect on mortality as smoking cigarettes or alcohol consumption, demonstrating just how integral social connections are for someone’s health. The Proud2Be Rural Outreach Project aims to reach those isolated LGBTQ+ people and enable them to create friendships and connections that can become a lifeline.

The project creates the opportunities for people to come together, for members to develop better support networks with their peers and those who understand them, including inter-generationally, and increase their self-confidence and resilience. The project also hosts community events to help to increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in the area and reduce feelings of shame and instances of discrimination.

Members at the 2019 pride event

Every year, the project holds a pride event for LGBTQ+ people to come together and celebrate their identities. Due to the pandemic, the festival had to be moved online, although it still involved activities for people to connect remotely and share their experiences, worries or concerns.

Proud2Be also moved their peer-support groups online when the lockdown measures were introduced, continuing an important lifeline for many. Due to the lockdown and physical distancing measures, many of the members were feeling more isolated than ever before. The project gained four times as many members during lockdown than it had previously, and doubled the amount of online meet-ups the group usually held, supporting people to check in with each other, share coping strategies and take part in fun activities.

The project has also been delivering a weekly emergency food parcel scheme for those LGBTQ+ people who would otherwise struggle to afford or access basic food items during the pandemic. Although only mid-way through the project, members are already feeling more connected, and part of a community, even during these unprecedented times.

“I found Proud2Be at a time in my life where I really needed support and had nowhere to turn. They’re my chosen family and I am so grateful to have them.” Project member 

Proud2Be were awarded £31,080 for their Rural Outreach Project (PROP) which is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised through Health Lottery South West.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2020 Annual Review. To read it in full, click here.

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