An LGBT support group has been launched in Stockbridge Village after residents spoke out about feeling “isolated” and “under-represented”.
In 2017, a research project led by Lancaster University, in partnership with social landlord ForHousing and local Resident Advisors, revealed high levels of social isolation experienced by different groups in their community, including members of the LGBT+ community in Knowsley.
With concerns over there being no services for adults over the age of 19 within the borough, cost of travel to seek support from elsewhere and about the national rise in hate crime all being raised, residents in Stockbridge Village decided it was time to make a change.
Liz Sharpe, from Stockbridge Village, said: “I identify as LGBT so it was heart-breaking when I couldn’t find support in Knowsley for myself.
“After researching what support was available in Knowsley , we found there was zero adult provision.” Liz said there is only support available in Knowsley for younger adults.
She said: “Knowsley Youth Mutual is a great organisation but that covers up to the age of 19, so it’s also important that older adults have somewhere to go too.
“The closest adult support is Liverpool and St Helens , which is an hour’s ride away on the bus. “Some felt unsafe to travel that far and some people can’t afford to pay to go the distance.”It’s heart-breaking, it really is. Even though we have a good connection with Merseyside Police and the other local communities there is still that fear.” Liz said that not having support, advice and information more locally left a lot of people feeling “isolated, let down, hidden, under-represented”.
So Liz, along with a number of other residents, decided to set up an LGBT support group called Stockbridge Gemz, to offer monthly meetings, encourage socialising and to highlight any issues people in Stockbridge Village and beyond may be facing.