Homeless LGBT+ organisation loses vital emergency shelter due to ‘renovation costs’

The Outside Project is a grassroots groups that runs a community centre, homeless shelter and domestic-abuse refuge

London’s The Outside Project is without a building for its LGBT+ homeless shelter for the first time in four years.

The LGBT+ homeless shelter was due to move into a new building this spring, but the move “experienced a number of delays and ultimately fell through unexpectedly a few weeks ago due to renovation costs”, The Outside Project said in a statement.

“We are looking for buildings to operate in and hope to find something before next winter at least.”

The grassroots organisation, which also runs a community centre and domestic-abuse refuge, opened the UK’s first LGBT+ homeless shelter in 2018.

In April 2021, the homeless shelter moved from Clerkenwell Fire Station – where it had been based for two years – into a COVID-19 hotel. The hotel arrangement ended on 7 March and The Outside Project is without a building to offer shelter for the first time since 2018.

“Our additional winter emergency hotel closes as planned this month after a second successful year,” The Outside Project explained. “This will therefore be the first time we have not had emergency accommodation available since we reopened in 2018 following our pilot in 2017.

“This has been a massive blow to our crew who have given everything to stay open and to open the additional services our community desperately needed throughout the pandemic.”

The Outside Project has supported more than 60 LGBT+ people with crisis beds this past winter – and many more people through community outreach and through the LGBT+ centre.

This is an increase on the same period in the previous year, and shows that “there is no doubt that LGBTIQ+ by and for, high support crisis accommodation is vital in London”, The Outside Project said.

“We’re working hard to find a suitable, stable, long term home for our services. We’d like to encourage LGBTIQ+ people who are facing abuse or homelessness to contact the helplines listed on our website for advice and support, or visit our weekly housing advice drop-in – Cafe Queero – at our LGBTIQ+ Centre on Lant Street in Borough.”


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Carla Ecola, managing director of The Outside Project, told MyLondon about the need for specialist LGBT+ services: “There’s a kind of one-size-fits all type system to the statutory support offered to those in need and that doesn’t match with our community’s needs, it doesn’t relate to the trauma that our community experience either.

“For instance, for LGBT+ women who have dealt with domestic abuse, going to an all women’s space wouldn’t make them feel safe.

“Similarly, men who have experienced domestic violence are not given the same priority as women in terms of local authorities – so there are many different barriers to our community accessing support or getting their foot into the door in the first place.

“Then there’s the issue of if members of the community would feel safe in those statutory spaces, historically our community hasn’t felt safe to access those services as there’s various oppressions and other prejudices which have created an internalised view for our community that they are not safe there.

“If we were to be given the money and the property for people to come to us then it would make a huge difference but the lack of data we have on those, such as the trans people needing our assistance, means that the government are reluctant to spend on groups like ours as they can’t see the need.”