Pink Saltire’s social support group for adults in Fife is celebrating it’s first anniversary with a £4,000 cash boost, securing the group’s activity for another year.
The group was launched to reduce the isolation of LGBT people in Fife, an area with high levels of unemployment and a mix of suburban and rural housing.
Now, with grants secured from The Robertson Trust and Fife Council’s Cowdenbeath Area Committee, the group are planning activities which they hope will appeal to even more locals to come along and get involved.
Stephen Campbell, who attends the group every Tuesday in the Maxwell Centre, Cowdenbeath, said:
“The funding we now have can help all the group come together and create a stronger bond – we are like a wee family within itself but the funding helps create a stronger bond for the whole group. We can do activities together which individuals may not have been able to take part in or may not have had the confidence to go out and take part. The group helps eliminate that exclusion and makes sure every member has the opportunity to join in and feel like one of the family, boosting confidence too!”
ConnexONS brings local LGBT+ people together weekly with a varied programme of activities and events, all chosen by the members themselves. The group was launched thanks to a grant from the former Broad St Centre Management Committee after the Centre’s closure.
A survey of those who attended in the first year showed 92% felt more connected to other LGBT people through the group and everyone agreed it should happen in other areas of Fife too, with more than a third of the group travelling over 5 miles to attend.
Some LGBT+ people in rural communities often have difficulty connecting with others due to the cost of travel or because of a perception of exclusion in their community – ConnexONS helps tackle this and builds community resilience and skills.
The group has been managed by Pink Saltire Chair, Will Watters, who says he can really see the benefit of people coming together:
“This group might have started small, but it really makes a difference to those who come along. It helps people make new friends, gets them out the house for a while and talking with others. It’s like a youth club for adults – everyone gets a cuppa and we have a chat about our week, sometimes there’s a speaker invited in, sometimes an activity or a games night. It all helps people connect which is really important for everyone’s wellbeing.”
Other members of the group agreed, with Steven Martin, who attended the group’s outing to a pantomime in December (featured image), telling us:
“It helps bring the group closer and helps to make you feel part of something. It enables you to feel safe and not alone and feel you can go to a place that you wouldn’t normally go to. The funding takes the stress and fear out of not being able to join in, which can make you feel excluded.”
Deb Hillgartner agrees, commenting:
“The money has enabled the group to go on outings that individually not everyone might have been able to afford and well……outings, Yay!”