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'Star' refuge is helping LGBTQI+ people in London

Words by Smiley Team

A refuge is now open to London's LGBTIQ+ community for those who are escaping domestic abuse.

The Outside Project has opened 'Star Refuge' in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Initially launched in June 2020, this vital project is funded by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, and is for LGBTQI+ people who are escaping domestic abuse.

This could be from a partner, family member or someone a person lives with. And it could be physically, verbally or emotionally abuse. 

The Outside Project is an LGBTIQ+ community shelter, centre and domestic abuse refuge which was set up for those within the LGBTIQ+ community who feel endangered, who are homeless, ‘hidden’ homeless or feel that they are on the outside of services due to historical and present prejudice in society and in their homes.

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They advocate for LGBTIQ+ rights and needs within wider systems and services, and promote improved social health and sobriety within the LGBTIQ community. 

Carla Ecola, founder and director, said: “During the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots it is fitting to flip the narrative, centring our homeless siblings and those who feel left outside of mainstream and LGBTIQ+ spaces.

“The centre and shelter has made an immeasurable difference to our guests, who will always be loudly and proudly at the centre of this project. 

“We’re grateful for the support from the Mayor of London and our LGBTIQ+ community and allies across the country. We can’t thank you enough for standing beside us.” 

The Star Refuge is open on Thursdays from midday to 4pm, and was created as a calm lounge for guests to find resources, literature by and for survivors, sensory toys, comfort and a sense of safety and solidarity with other refuge residents. 

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The space exists in their new LGBTIQ+ centre in Borough, and invites past and present guests, and the wider community to come together to support each other. There are some great activities, day trips and workspaces planned, including a visit from the Open Barbers - a hairdressing service for all lengths, genders and sexualities. 

The team are now looking for a high quality accommodation provider to partner with, on this exciting project, to find this much needed service a long-term home in London. 

You can make a donation to The Outside Project, so they can continue their vital work, or you can email [email protected].

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