LGBTQ+ grant funding used to help community

Each year, February marks LGBT+ History Month. Sandwell Council has been reflecting on the successful

health grants programme for the LGBTQ+ community, launched a year ago. According to the 2021 census there are approximately 6,810 people in Sandwell who identify as LGBTQ+. National evidence shows that people who identify as LGBTQ+ face health inequalities and worse health outcomes and experiences of healthcare than the rest of the population.

The LGBTQ+ health challenge initiative aims to improve physical and mental health, healthcare access, and social connection leading to better health outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community in Sandwell. Grants totalling £26,000 have been awarded so far to community groups including Proud Baggies, Crossroads and Friar Park Millennium Centre. The money has helped fund initiatives including counselling sessions for individuals, the setting up of support groups, cycling groups, coffee mornings and live music evenings – all with the aim of improving physical and mental health for people in the LGBTQ+ community.

To mark LGBT+ History Month Sandwell Council invited local voluntary organisation, Proud Baggies to share their successes as one of the recipients of a grant under the LGBTQ+ health challenge initiative. Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council met Piero Zizzi, Founder and Chair of Proud Baggies to thank him and the organisation for their work with the community. She said: “The focus for this year’s LGBT+ History month is medicine so it seems apt we celebrate the difference local groups are making in the community to people’s health with the grant funding they have received.

“I want to thank Proud Baggies and the other groups who have received these grants for making a real difference to the LGBTQ+ community in Sandwell.” Piero Zizzi, Founder and Chair of Proud Baggies, said: “Thanks to the LGBTQ+ health challenge fund and support from Sandwell Council and SCVO, we have been able to launch Proud Baggies FC; an inclusive football club which will provide a safe and welcoming space for people to play football in Sandwell and the local area, regardless of age, ability, sexuality or gender. “Following on from the success of our Friday night sessions, there was a clear demand for LGBTQ+ inclusive football within Sandwell, so we are delighted to be able to provide opportunities which will benefit local people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.” The health grants initiative will reopen for applications in the coming months giving more groups the opportunity to apply for funding up to £5,000 to improve the health within the LGBTQ+ community. Sandwell Council is already making plans to celebrate Pride in June including an LGBTQ+ walk.

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