We’re starting an exciting new project with Stonewall Housing, which will entail a monthly drop-in advice and sign-posting service, features on our website, brunches, drag sales and a huuuuuge party in August to raise some much-needed cash for this very important organisation.
Can you tell us a little about the history of Stonewall housing? When did it start? Who set it up?
We started in 1983 as a housing co-operative set up by a small group of women concerned that housing providers disregarded lesbians and gay men. This is still one of our concerns thirty-five years later, only we are now LGBTQ+.
I’m sure most people reading this will know, but for those who don’t, where did you get the name Stonewall from?
The name (which a large number of organisations adopted) comes from a key moment in LGBT history, the so called Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The riots were the starting point for gay liberation movements in the US and the UK.
People often get you confused with Stonewall the lobbying charity, but Stonewall Housing is actually older isn’t it?
Yes, we are older than Stonewall. They were formed in 1989, and more importantly, we do very different work. We are a tiny team of 13 and our services are more at grass root level, tackling issues within the community related to housing. Stonewall concentrate more on training, lobbying and campaigns.
Where in the country do you operate?
Because of our size, we only operate in London. Our advice service is available to anyone who lives in one of the thirty-three London boroughs. We are working towards building more support models and supported accommodation in other beacons cities like Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham and already do some consultancy work with services there.
What kind of services do you currently provide and who can utilise them?
We provide supported accommodation, housing advocacy and advice to the LGBT+ community across London. We support 31 LGBT+ young people (16- 25) in supported accommodation across Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Newham. One scheme for over 25s and a dedicated Trans supported scheme for anyone over 18. We host a range of youth dedicated projects including a work-ready program, Qhere (our biweekly youth group in Soho) and the Ambassador Program. We support over 1000 a year through our advice line, open to people of all ages. We also offer mental health advocacy services, the domestic abuse partnership and work with older communities to ensure they are visible and safe at home. We deliver bespoke training to companies and organisations who want to improve their diversity standards and knowledge for their LGBT+ staff and customers.
How has the work you do changed since you were first set up?
Well, the main change has been to the amount of social housing which is available. This has meant that local authorities are now less and less able (or willing) to help people who have been made homeless, including, of course, a lot of LGBTQ+ people. The increase in privately rented accommodation has brought with it a whole new set of challenges.
History and politics in many ways are cyclical- do you see an increasing need for your services?
In some ways, yes. As I said, there is less help available from local authorities, so this means that there is more need for us to advocate on behalf of our clients. Sadly, there is also still a lot of homophobia and biphobia, and especially transphobia being experienced by LGBTQ+ people in private and social housing. Having said that, there has definitely been a change in attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, and in the last nineteen years or so, legislation that protects us from discrimination.
I know one thing you have been keen on is finding opportunities for your service-users to learn new skills and gain new experiences- especially in places with LGBT+ and POC role-models. What specifically has worked well in this area, and if anyone is able to provide these opportunities, how should they get in touch?
We are committed to finding more opportunities and role models for young people that identify as LGBT+ and BAME. We’ve recently started working with Jay Jay Revlon, who is a fantastic role model within the ballroom/ dance scene and he has hosted a range of workshops and fundraisers for our organisation. We also have dedicated volunteers for the work-ready program that looks specifically at the kind of issues young LGBT+ young people face getting into employment. We’re always looking for new volunteers please contact Cat@stonewallhousing.org for an application form!
For those who are in a place to be able to do so, how can people help out with the work you’re doing? (Events, donations page link, volunteering opportunities)
We always welcome support in any form. Fundraising is a big thing for us.
You can donate via the website: www.stonewallhousing.org There’s also ideas there to host a personal or group fundraiser there via justgiving.com or virgingiving.com. But to have more detailed chat about any fundraising or volunteer opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of the team at our monthly advice drop in at Superstores!
Crowdfund for the HEN exhibition in collaboration with Stonewall Housing
Find Stonewall Housing's drop-in advice and sign-posting service at Dalston Superstore on the last Thursday of every month from 3pm-5pm.