Scheme launched to improve lives of LGBTQ+ community after one in five say they feel unsafe

A charity has launched a new scheme to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Lambeth after a survey revealed one in five do not feel safe in the borough.

LGBTQ Hero has set up Lambeth Allies to bring businesses and public sector organisations together to learn about how to make Lambeth a safer place for people in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Participants are provided with free awareness training, welcoming signage and support from LGBT Hero to improve their practices.  

Dozens of organisations have already taken part in the Lambeth Allies pilot scheme across Vauxhall and Clapham, including Surrey County Cricket Club, Clapham Picturehouse and Better Leisure.

The Railway pub in Streatham Common, with a ‘We Are Allies’ sign on its window (Picture: Justin Mahboubian-Jones)

Justin Mahboubian-Jones, 36, from Camberwell, is a project manager for LGBTQ Hero, based in Effra Road, Brixton. He said: “Lambeth is the queerest borough in London, almost 10 per cent of the population is LGBTQ+. 

“It’s a great place to live and work but also we have to constantly ensure that we are trying to make things better.”

LGBT Hero set up Lambeth Allies after conducting a survey of LGBTQ+ Lambeth residents in 2022.

Responses to the survey showed one in five people did not feel safe living, working or socialising in Lambeth, and had experienced hate crime in the past 12 months.

Training exercises as part of the Lambeth Allies scheme (Picture: Justin Mahboubian-Jones)

Mr Mahboubian-Jones said: “A lot of the issues that we found from the survey correlate with what we know about people feeling excluded and unsafe.

“The rate of hate crimes against the community has been increasing since 2016. Nationally, between 2021 and 2022, there was a 56 per cent increase in anti-trans hate crimes and an increase of 41 per cent in anti LGB+ (sexual orientation) hate crimes.  

In August 2023, two men, one aged in his 20s and the other in his 30s, were outside the Two Brewers in Clapham High Street when they were stabbed in an incident the Met has described as a homophobic attack.

Mr Mahboubian-Jones said: “That incident was incredibly shocking. We should not be seeing it in this day and age.

Justin Mahboubian-Jones, project manager for LGBTQ Hero (Picture: Justin Mahboubian-Jones)

“Training is a big part of the programme. We’re trying to make people understand what our experiences are and what they can do to prevent, report and make people feel safe.”

LGBTQ Hero’s survey also found nearly two in five people wanted more safe spaces in the borough.

Mr Mahboubian-Jones said: “We are trying to get people seen and included. 

“We have a huge amount of capacity for that in Lambeth, but people are hesitant to use these spaces. 

Social spaces including bars, restaurants and clubs are being encouraged to signpost their venues to be more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community (Picture: Justin Mahboubian-Jones)

“This scheme allows people to learn and make changes. We are open to them as a resource for everyone.”

Lambeth Allies comes following six years of work between LGBT Hero and Lambeth council to support LGBTQ+ people in the borough.

Mr Mahboubian-Jones said: “The council has put so much effort and thought into this project with us. We have worked with them over the years specifically with trans awareness training and we help them by reaching out to the community to understand what people need.”

You can read more about the scheme here.

Pictured top: From left, Kristian Jackson, Richard Joyce of the Black Prince Trust, Justin Mahboubian-Jones and Sam Killy (Picture: Justin Mahboubian-Jones)

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