LGBT+ spaces and services have implemented new changes to ensure continuous accessibility and safety in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.
After a general shut down went into effect across Ireland on March 12, LGBT+ outreach organisations have halted club activities and drop-in services, members are currently working remotely, providing support over the phone. Some clubs and bars have announced that they will remain open but going forward there will be a capacity limit in accordance with the Government and health officials guidance.
Growing concerns over the coronavirus have had a widespread ripple effect on every level of LGBT+ life. Many freelance artists face a precarious financial situation due to the cancellation of large indoor and outdoor events. Self-isolation and ‘social distancing’ has been strongly recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, yet for some, this can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Though the coronavirus impacts greatly upon the public’s everyday life, LGBT+ spaces and services are still working tirelessly to provide support for the community. The safety of queer people has been at the heart of these organisations, bars, and clubs, since their beginning and they are making great strides to uphold this amidst COVID-19.
In light of this, LGBT+ spaces and services detail the changes they are implementing to address ongoing concerns of coronavirus.
Though the resource centre is currently closed, the staff at Outhouse are working remotely and their phone line is still open. A member of the community centre said, “So we will still provide information and signposting but the space is not available. We still work and still provide the services and we are available online or by the phone.”
We realise that people will still want to call us so we are opening our phone lines for Signposting and Information from 12pm to 3pm from Monday to Friday.
— Outhouse (@Outhouse_Dublin) March 13, 2020
Speaking about how the coronavirus has impacted LGBT+ spaces and services, the member of Outhouse said, “I think it is still very much a work in progress. It is a very new thing. We are aware that Outhouse is a lifeline for many people, like other LGBT+ organisations and groups, and the space is important and vital for many people. So we are aware of the challenges it can post to the community and to the people who are the most vulnerable in society.”
In terms of challenges facing these services, the member of Outhouse said, “There are still services available for people if they need to get in touch or chat to someone. This is our main concern at the moment just to make sure, that despite the current challenges, we will do our best to make sure everyone who needs to receive any sort of support can do so.”
Gay Project Cork
Executive Director of Gay Project Cork, Padraig Rice, speaks about the changes to the service, “We have closed the centre for the next few weeks. All of our activities and events have been postponed. And we’re setting up virtual spaces today, we are doing skype meetups and stuff just to make sure that people aren’t isolated. Then all the staff remotely are working from home.”
— Gay Project ?️? (@GayProjectIRL) March 13, 2020
Due to the effect of social isolation, LGBT+ services are maintaining connections and ensuring that no one suffers due to loneliness. Rice further said, “We’re trying to reach out by some kind of social space with either for those who are online via skype or by phoning or messaging. Make sure they have those connections.”
Dear Supporters and Service-Users,
In light of the Government’s decision to close schools and other public buildings we will be closing the Gay Project Community Common Room from today until March 29th. This means all groups and activities will not take… https://t.co/4ujnVkMXEB pic.twitter.com/yolNEkaH84
— Gay Project ?️? (@GayProjectIRL) March 12, 2020
Independent queer businesses are under huge pressure with the developing pandemic. Co-owners of Street 66, Siobhan and Cris, are keeping the bar open while also staying in line with Government recommendations. They are taking every preventative measure to maintain a safe space for the community.
They detail the effect this has had upon the space, “Well we are following the procedures, that we are limiting to a 100 capacity. So that’s going to have a massive effect on us. So what we are trying to do at the moment is try to look after our regular customers. It is going to be very difficult tonight and tomorrow night to be turning people away. It’s definitely affecting business because we’re an independent small business we’re kind of a bit nervous about the whole thing. So every morning, I go in with the cleaner and we sterilise everything. Try to get people to use the visa machine.”
We as a small business are petrified of what is to come next. We would advise all customers to stay safe and if you feel sick etc to stay at home.
However we will remain open and have sterilised the premises daily… https://t.co/LlM1mOxY18
— Street 66 Dublin (@st66dublin) March 12, 2020
Street 66 has always been community focused, during a time when people are self-isolating, they are making great efforts to reach out and provide emotional support. Siobhan said, “We are a safe place for people within the community. So we have sent messages to the older people if they need anything like shopping or whatever and they are afraid to come out. We will try to get one of our staff to drop stuff at the door. Because we’re all one big community. We have gotten a lot of well wishes and messages and people in the community coming in just to say that they’re supporting us. And it’s quite emotional.”
The stunning reigning queen of Street 66, Pixie Woo, will still be in the DJ booth.
Currently, LINC’s drop-in services and clubs have been postponed, however, they can still be contacted through phone and by email with a swift response time. One member said, “So what we are doing, we are sharing posts on Facebook all the time. There are two staff contactable during working hours. And we’ve just been monitoring it all the time, that’s our plan. And as time goes on, depending on how it will be, we will introduce other measures.”
She further stated, “This is manageable if we all work together. It is manageable.”
Communications and Advocacy Manager of BeLong To, Sinead Keane described the changes to the service, “I suppose we want to really make sure that those who need our services are able to access the kind of supports that they need. And while this is often done face to face through our groups and our Monday chats and our crisis counselling, we really wanted to make sure and we put a plan in place a couple of weeks ago, start looking at how we can make sure that we deliver our services even if we have to work remotely or if we have to shut down or face to face services for the moment or put a pause on them.”
We will be providing Monday Chats for information, referral and advice by
You can make an appointment with a Youth Worker here ? https://t.co/NCOOh3me9h
— BeLonG To Youth Services (@BeLonG_To) March 13, 2020
Keane adds, “So that’s kind of the main piece for us here is that we want to make sure that we can still offer support to LGBTI young people and their families especially now at a time when people are being encouraged to isolate and for those experiencing anxiety and mental health challenges that can be and leave you in a particularly isolated place. So that’s why we want to make sure that we can offer as much support to them as possible.”
Similar to previous LGBT+ services, LGBT Ireland has postponed face to face sessions due to the ongoing concerns about the coronavirus yet are still running helpline and online chat services. On Twitter, they posted, “In light of Government advice, we will be postponing all of our face-to-face meetings and peer support groups from Monday 16th to 29th March.”
!! COVID19 Update !! pic.twitter.com/vatuQGhFAC
— LGBT Ireland (@LGBT_ie) March 12, 2020
Based on nationwide restrictions on public gatherings, HIV Ireland have cancelled MPower rapid HIV testing services at PantiBar, The George, The Boilerhouse, and Outhouse Dublin until further notice.
— HIV Ireland (@HIVIreland) March 13, 2020
Director of this vital community-based programme, Adam Shanely, wrote on Twitter, “The #MPOWER outreach team is still available by phone, email, WhatsApp and on hook-up apps to offer you information and support on your sexual health and wellbeing. .”
Being mindful of the advice of the Irish public health authorities, we have made the decision to cancel the MPOWER rapid HIV testing service at all venues until further notice. #MPOWER #CoronaVirusIreland https://t.co/pS49XrP1mb
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) March 13, 2020
The #MPOWER outreach team is still available by phone, email, WhatsApp and on hook-up apps to offer you information and support on your sexual health and wellbeing. For details on how to get in touch see https://t.co/gf310faTyk pic.twitter.com/3aj9tFf08p
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) March 13, 2020
On March 11, TENI posted on Twitter, “As a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of our staff and community, we are closing TENI HQ for all external events until at least 6th April. That means that we will not be hosting the Dublin Trans Peer Support Group meetings.”
We have also decided to minimise staff travel and participation in external events, including peer support groups, trainings and meetings. We will update you as we have more information.
— TENI (@TENI_Tweets) March 11, 2020
The organisation further wrote, “We also will not be hosting TransParenCI meetings in TENI HQ. We hope to provide some form of online support in place of these meetings and are working with facilitators to explore possibilities. We have also decided to minimise staff travel and participation in external events, including peer support groups, training and meetings. We will update you as we have more information.”
Popular Dublin nightlife spot The George announced that “Due to government guidance on indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people we will be open to a limited capacity with a maximum of 100 people. Unfortunately, we will be cancelling all shows and entertainment until further notice.”
— The George Dublin (@TheGeorgeDublin) March 12, 2020
The team over at the George have also advised, “Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Please use contactless payments as much as possible. We will be reviewing and updating the situation on a continuous basis.”
The always fabulous club night Mother has released the following statement, “Due to the ongoing situation re public gatherings and for the safety of our customers and community, Mother will be closed until further notice. Refunds for our Monday night Paddys Eve show will be processed over the next week. Stay safe & big love.”
Due to the ongoing situation re public gatherings and for the safety of our customers and community, Mother will be closed until further notice.
Refunds for our Monday night Paddys Eve show will be processed over the next week.
Stay safe & big love
Cormac, Lisa & the Mother DJs
— Mother Club (@MotherDublin) March 12, 2020
In relation to the hugely successful Pride Block Party, the team at Mother said, “The Mother team are working closely with Dublin Pride and will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities including the HSE and Dublin City Council to ensure all actions taken are in the best interest of our customers and our community. We will follow all advice given by the relevant authorities and are putting contingency plans in place for a date reschedule should it be necessary. We are family, and we’re in this together.”
Statement from the Mother family re pride. X pic.twitter.com/1m3ofXMsoM
— Mother Club (@MotherDublin) March 11, 2020
PantiBar & Penny Lane
On Facebook, the legendary PantiBar addressed growing concerns on Thursday with the caption, “We are taking it a day at a time but we promise to keep our customers updated as the situation progresses, be safe and look out for each other.”
Panti Quarter have assured that their team are taking every measure to uphold health and safety guidelines towards protecting the wellbeing of the LGBT+ community. A recently published statement reads, “Obviously this is an unprecedented situation, and there are no easy answers to how best to proceed for small businesses like ours, in light of the recommendations announced by the government this morning for dealing with the Corona pandemic.”
The statement further reads, “So after much thought and discussion, and taking into consideration both the recommendations announced today, and our responsibilities to our amazing staff and our loyal customers, we have decided that we will (for now at least) remain open – but not quite as usual.”
All planned special events and entertainment have been cancelled up to March 29. Numbers will be restricted to a minimum so as to prevent crowding.
Popular Galway based night club, Club Gass, has announced that it will be postponed until March 29. The venue. Roisín Dubh, posted on Facebook, “Hello all. It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce that we are postponing all shows and clubs until 29 March, in the interests of the health and safety of our customers, staff and artists. Our bar will remain open with limited capacity. We will contact you in relation to the rescheduling of specific shows individually. Be safe and take care of yourselves.”
LGBT+ services and spaces are showing their care and love for the community by taking onboard safety advice from State bodies and public health officials to reduce the spread of coronavirus. It is important that during this period of ‘social distance’, there are still ways of accessing support networks.
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