Businesses in Manchester’s Gay Village have joined forces to help a ‘game-changing’ scheme after Manchester Pride bosses announced they could no longer financially support it after 27 years.
Last week, the Pride festival said that it was ‘no longer in a position’ to support the LGBT Foundation’s safer sex scheme which provides free condoms to people across Greater Manchester.
The scheme has been supported by Manchester Pride since it was launched in 1994 and has distributed more than 31 million ‘safer sex’ packs across the city-region to date.
Read more: The LGBTQ+ Pride events still to come across Greater Manchester and beyond in 2021
The move was met with disappointment from members of the LGBTQ+ community.
One person said: “Desperately sad news. Hopefully someone steps up to fund this scheme, which is so important to so many people.”
In addition, Manchester Pride also announced that their ‘current funding agreement’ with HIV charity George House Trust had come to an end and they were in talks to develop a ‘new funding offer’ with the charity.
On Friday (August 6), the Village Licensed Business Association (VLBA) – made up of businesses operating in Manchester’s Gay Village – held an emergency meeting to look at how they could support both initiatives.
“In this meeting it was discussed how we as a community can help to support the much-needed help and funds to continue the work within our Village and our city,” the VLBA said in a statement.
“We all understand and know from the strong response on social media along with press coverage this week that both projects are very close to all our hearts; not just from people within our Village, but worldwide.”
People out in Manchester’s Gay Village during Manchester Pride
(Image: Joel Goodman)
The VLBA have now set up a ‘TARGET £100K’ fundraising campaign to provide a new funding stream to support the LGBT Foundation scheme and George House Trust.
As part of the campaign, each venue that is part of the community association has agreed to make a contribution to the fundraiser and it is hoped members of the public will also donate.
The VLBA added: “With this money, over 90,000 safe-sex packs can be produced, distributed and facilitate a whole years’ supply, and also the continuous work that the GHT do as we fight to eliminate the stigma of HIV and support people living with HIV.”
In less than 24 hours, the fundraiser has already surpassed £25,000 – a quarter of the intended target.
One donor said: “So proud of our amazing Village venues for stepping up and organising this. Thank you so much!!!!”
Another wrote: “Extremely important service, too important to lose.”
Another added: “Thank you for being the true voice of the Manchester LGBTQ+ community.”
A series of additional fundraising events are set to be scheduled throughout 2021 and next year.
You can donate to the fundraiser here.