Based on its projected budget, Galway LGBT+ resource centre Teach Solais will be forced to close its doors this November unless urgent funding can be sourced. The centre’s volunteer board have reached out to the LGBT+ community and allies for support, launching a GoFundMe page to raise the €18,000 they need to continue operations.
The centre, run by AMACH! LGBT Galway, a registered charity with a volunteer board, has been a lifeline to local LGBT+ people. As with many areas in the West, LGBT+ people in Galway rely on a handful of events and resources to maintain their sense of community and belonging. “We have an LGBT bar and a Pride week every August, but these alone are not adequate community supports all year round,” says Sharon Nolan of the Social Democrats, a volunteer with the centre and chairperson of Galway Community Pride.
Teach Solais provides supports essential to the welfare of local LGBT+ people – its health and wellbeing services include the Galway branch of the national LGBT Helpline, mental health talks and panel discussions, peer support groups such as trans group GOSSIP, and free HIV testing by AIDS West. It also provides an invaluable social outlet for the queer community, with meditation sessions, yoga classes, a book club, photography, creative writing, and sporting activities including a running club and soccer team.
The resource centre relies entirely on funding applications, donations, fundraisers and community volunteers to keep this wealth of events and supports in operation. The group have repeatedly applied to the HSE for core funding similar to that received by resource centres in Dublin, Dundalk and Cork city, but to little success. Two applications were denied any funding and, according to the board, “The most recent application to cover a full-time resource centre manager, an outreach worker for the county and running costs of the centre was unsuccessful; though we were awarded €5,000.”
“We appreciate that the HSE is under pressure to fund many worthy health and wellbeing services,” the board states on its GoFundMe page, “but this is truly a disappointment for our group that caters for an under-resourced minority group in the west of Ireland.”
Now, unless Teach Solais’ new crowdfunding campaign can raise the money needed, the resource centre will be forced to close its doors in November.
“Teach Solais has become an essential part of the LGBT+ and wider community of Galway,” say the board, “and its loss will negatively impact the lives of members of our community and their families.”
AMACH! LGBT are hosting a public meeting on Friday, March 29 at 7.30pm in Teach Solais, LGBT+ Resource Centre, No.1 Victoria Place, Merchants Road, Galway city. They encourage those who want to support the campaign for sustainable funding to come along and ask that the public contact their local representatives to ask them to pledge their support for Teach Solais.
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