On November 3, 2023, the Midlands LGBT+ Project released a statement calling for public support after the organisation did not receive funding from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for 2024.
The Midlands LGBT+ Project is the only dedicated group offering support services for LGBTQ+ adults in the Midlands, including Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Kildare, and the loss of funding could have a devastating impact on the communities it serves.
Project Coordinator Christina Fitzharris (she/they) told GCN: “We are devastated about the decision of the LGBT+ Community Services Fund not to provide funding to Midlands LGBT+ Project for 2024.”
They added: “This fund was set up to help provide supports specifically to rural LGBT+ people so in choosing to not fund the largest rural LGBT+ service in the country, and to exclude thousands of LGBT+ people who are some of the most isolated and rural in Ireland is hugely disappointing and a failure to those who need these services.”
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The Midlands LGBT+ Project was established in February of 2021 with a goal of developing community for queer adults in the local area. For the past three years, the team has worked tirelessly to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people to connect and get advice.
The team hosts monthly social meet-ups, peer support groups, and awareness events, as well as offering support for parents of LGBTQ+ young people. Some of the recent projects the team led include trans support groups, an over 50’s group, queer book clubs and sports groups. These events help reduce feelings of isolation and create a sense of local queer community in the Midlands.
This year, Midlands LGBT+ Project is hosting the first-ever Athlone Pride festival, called Heartlands Pride, on November 10-12. Several events are free to attend, and tickets for the wine and cheese event and after-party are still available!
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The group also organised the second annual Laois Pride featuring a week-long lineup of events, including a “Bring Your Own Boardgames” Gaymes night, a movie night, and a series of social LGBTQ+ meet-ups.
As it stands, the Midlands LGBT+ Project will only be able to operate until November 31, 2023. Additional funding options are being explored, and the organisation is calling on the public for their support so it can keep serving LGBTQ+ people in the Midlands.
Those based in Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Kildare are encouraged to email their local TDs and Councillors and ask them to lobby the Department to provide provisions for rural LGBTQ+ people in the Midlands.
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