Europe’s first LGBTQ+ youth centre gets sparkling new home in Manchester

Staff standing outside the centre

Europe’s first LGBTQ+ youth support centre has reopened in Manchester after a massive redevelopment effort.

LGBTQ+ charity The Proud Trust unveiled its newly redeveloped centre, The Proud Place, on 27 May. It’s a place where LGBTQ+ people can access community groups, support workers, and a range of events to meet local peers.

The £2.4 million centre opened its doors after four years of development to the rapturous applause of Manchester patrons; its previous home of 20 years closed in 2020.

Among the crowd were It’s A Sin star Nathaniel Hall and Schuh managing director Colin Temple, who presided over its opening along with other Manchester dignitaries. Hall spoke about the “beautiful” new building during its opening, saying that “it feels like a place you can kick off your shoes and just relax”.

“The Proud Place is amazing – it’s so beautiful,” he said. “It’s the place that I definitely needed when I was 14, 15, 16 growing up and understanding my sexuality and navigating a homophobic world.

“To spend time with other people my age, like me, and grow and learn and connect would have been invaluable. Everyone needs to come down and experience it.”

Nathaniel Hall and a friend.

Nathaniel Hall and a friend. (Proud Trust)

The building spans three floors and will play host to activities, amenities and events that are free to apply or participate in for queer youth looking for a place to meet new people. With its new golden exterior, it’s hard to miss.

The Proud Trust CEO Lisa Harvey-Nebil said: “It’s an honour for The Proud Trust to take care of such an important building on behalf of Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community and we’re excited for this next chapter in our history.

“Our beautiful new home is such a far cry from the original building, which was built for privacy in the days when many people in our community were fearful of accessing service.”

Organisations such as Schuh, Amazon, Post Office, and Siemens funded The Proud Place’s renovations, buying corporate bricks and/or contributing other considerable expertise and financial support.

“Working with the Proud Trust helps us further understand the key issues for young LGBTQ+ people,” Schuh managing director Colin Temple said. “We want to continually educate ourselves and our teams, customers, and the wider community.”

Lord-lieutenant Sir Warren. (Proud Trust)

The original building was constructed in the same Sidney Street location in 1988 and has been a pillar for Manchester LGBTQ+ youth for decades. Now, after waiting for its eventual refurbishment, service users such as Simone, 24, are ecstatic to see its return.

“It means so much to be here today,” Simone said during the opening. “To see it all finally complete, it very much feels like now everything can start.

“I first came to The Proud Trust as a young person to help me with getting employment, they supported me on my options, as I hadn’t been out long as a trans woman,” she continues. “Ever since then I have never looked back.”

Lord-lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren Smith, attended the launch and spoke to the attending guests, saying: “This centre was the first of its kind in the whole of Europe when it first opened. It makes a real statement and should be something that Manchester is really proud of.

“I was the first openly gay lord-lieutenant in 500 years of history, I must admit it was a challenging route. I went through 40 years of being mocked. This organisation will eventually change that, and I am so proud to be a part of it.”