Manchester Pride has announced it will no longer be supporting a scheme that distributes free condoms and lubricant out to people across Greater Manchester to promote safer sex.
LGBT Foundation’s distribution scheme began in 1994 and has delivered more than 31 million ‘safer sex’ packs across the region.
The scheme distributes more than 90,000 packs free of charge every year.
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Manchester Pride has supported the scheme since its incarnation, but has now said it is no longer in a position to continue funding it.
In a statement, the charity organisation said the coronavirus pandemic had impacted Manchester Pride and that ending support for the scheme had been a ‘tough decision’ to make.
Mark Fletcher, chief executive of Manchester Pride, said: “The condom and lube distribution scheme has done absolutely vital work over the past 27 years and we have been proud to support it.
“Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Manchester Pride.
“Not being able to deliver in person events had a detrimental effect on our ability to generate income and raise funds in the way that we had planned.
Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace said the decision was ‘terrible news’ for Manchester’s LGBTQ+ community
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
“And, like many other charities, we have had to take some tough decisions as we focus on recovering.
“We encourage other organisations to support this pioneering scheme and we look forward to working with LGBT Foundation in the future as we aim to improve lives for LGBTQ+ people throughout Greater Manchester and beyond.”
LGBT Foundation said that the scheme will continue and they are now looking for alternative ways to fund and secure its future.
Paul Martin OBE, chief executive of LGBT Foundation, added: “For 27 years the scheme has provided free and accessible Safer Sex packs, first to gay and bisexual men, and now to all LGBTQ+ people living, working and visiting Greater Manchester.
“Throughout that time, the scheme has been run for the community, by the community and I pledge to the community that it will continue in the future.
“Condoms remain one of the key ways that we can reduce HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
“We’re sorry to see the partnership with Manchester Pride is ending, but we are grateful for their support over the last quarter of a century and look forward to many more years of working with Manchester Pride in support of LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester.”
Since the announcement was made, people have taken to social media to share their upset over the partnership ending.
One person wrote on Twitter: “Genuinely can’t believe of all of the things to cease this would be one of them. Hugely disappointed!”
Another said: “Desperately sad news. Hopefully someone steps up to fund this scheme, which is so important to so many people, although this does raise the question of where has the heart of @ManchesterPride gone?”
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Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace, who resigned as a patron of Manchester Pride last year, wrote: “This is terrible news for Manchester’s LGBT+ community, and sees the end of a core Pride duty.
“It prioritises staff wages, so-called arts funding and irrelevant pop concerts over the health and well-being of the LGBT+ community.
“The Foundation, like all charities, have struggled over the past 18 months, with the loss of their HQ and COVID, and this is exactly what they don’t need.
“Manchester’s LGBT+ community needs to take a good long look at the Pride weekend and decide if this is how they want it to continue. Pride is a protest.”
Carl Austin-Behan, Manchester’s LGBT advisor to Mayor Andy Burnham, wrote: “So sad and annoyed to read this as the reason #MardiGras #GayFest #OperationFundraiser #ManchesterPride was set up as a charity was to support our local #LGBTQ+ organisations across Greater Manchester with the Condoms & Lube scheme.”
Another said: “We need to pull together and support them with this. The impact this scheme will have had over the years is massive.”
Smyth Harper, co-chair of LGBT Foundation, added: “The most important thing to remember is that the world’s longest-running free condom and lube scheme is not ending.
“@LGBTfdn will continue to provide this vital service.”
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