Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
  • SupportU Receives full council backing

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    October 19th, 2011jamiewakerdggay, lgbt, reading pride, supportu

    Last night saw a full council meeting of Reading Borough Council where Director of SupportU, Lorna Mcardle, delivered a petition for a LGBT support centre in Reading.

    I helped Lorna prepare her speech which was as follows:

    As you’ll know, I am Lorna McArdle and I have been the Chair of the Reading Pride Charity for 6 years, an organisation that celebrates diversity in our town and aims to educate and eliminate discrimination against LGBT people in Reading. Pride has paved the way for LGBT acceptance in Reading and it was identified that whilst Reading is starting to accept that it is ok to be gay, there is little support for those who identify themselves as LGBT and the few services that do exist are difficult to find or have very little resource to be able to provide a service to all the people that need them. This is why we need a support centre in Reading.

    Im sure many of you will be wondering why we need one.

    I do not need to tell you about the inequality faced by LGBT people.

    I also do not need to tell you about the prejudice that still exists.

    And I also do not need to remind you of the lack of representation and advocacy for the LGBT community of Reading.

    Even with the power of the Internet, vulnerable members of Readings’ LGBT community have nowhere to turn in times of crisis or need. This must change.

    Let me share with you some of the experiences that members of the LGBT community have shared with us when we assessed the need for a centre in Reading.

    Let me tell you about Sally. A school pupil that is being physically bullied at school just because her mum is a lesbian. Schools can only help the pupil. A support Centre can provide a safe environment for loving families like Sally’s to meet other People in similar circumstances.

    Then there’s Bill. A vulnerable older person who happens to be gay that has housing issues brought on by depression. Embarrassed to ask for help because of his sexuality. Older people don’t all feel comfortable going to gay bars to be socially included and Day centres can often make them feel even more isolated. We can Support them and others by providing social activities for people like Bill who do not have children or family to help them.

    The last experience that I will share with you is a phone call that I recieved from a couple in sheltered accomodation who are being intimidated by other residents because of their sexuality. SupportU, with it’s Open Door Policy could work with wardens and housing officers to ensure the wellbeing of this couple.

    This support centre will provide a home for all of the LGBT services in Reading to ensure that those people that need to access them, can.

    As the current chair of Reading Pride, I am privileged every year to escort Reading’ Mayor around the festival and introduce them to the different groups and organisations exhibiting on site. This year I had the great pleasure of showing Debbie Edwards around the site who even recorded a video message for the OK 2B GAY Campaign. Wouldn’t it be great if all if those groups and organisations were together and accessible by the Reading LGBT community when they needed them?

    So which groups would benefit from SupportU?

    There’s BeYou which is a very successful helpline for LGBT issues but they only have a cupboard to use once a week to work from. This could be expanded for them with more resources for no extra cost.

    You all know Reading Pride – probably one of the most successful community festivals thats held in Reading. Unlike other council funded equality charites, it’s run by unpaid volunteers. Like other LGBT groups it could do with a home to have somewhere for simple things like recieve post.

    It’s time to accept there is a need and always has been, to help the LGBT community here in Reading and show that this town, NO, THIS CITY, does actually mean it when we say when it we are diverse. I therefore ask Council to consider this petition and support us at SupportU to support the LGBT members of our community

    Lorna received a round of applause for her speech and a reply given by Bette Tickner confirming Reading Borough Councils commitment to LGBT equality and reminding the council that similar projects have been supported by RBC.

    The motion presented by Cllr Tim Harris was brought forward and support was received by all parties in attendance. Lib Dem Leader, Cllr Daisy Benson said:

    “ I would like to thank Lorna Mcardle Chair of Reading Pride for the work she and others including have done behind the scenes on taking these ideas forward
    “We in Reading value our diversity. It is therefore important that we value diversity in all its forms and make everyone feel they are welcome in Reading.”

    As a LGBT campaigner, I feel passionate about equality and I was where pleased to see unanimous support for the SupportU project. I look forward to seeing this centres progress.

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