As lockdown restrictions are finally eased across Scotland, charities like Pink Saltire face real hurdles returning to anything like business-as-usual. Coronavirus has impacted us all deeply and it feels like we’re still trying to adapt to social distancing and ongoing changes to how we all live our lives – but things are changing.

We’ve done our best to respond to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people over the last 14 weeks and we’re relying on our partnerships and key networks to build an ongoing understanding of how our services can best be shaped to support those who need it most.

We’re talking of course about the people that LGBT ‘support’ rarely reaches, whose needs are simply ignored by the historical urbanisation of queer funding and the centralisation of wellbeing services in Glasgow or Edinburgh – those of us in rural and suburban Scotland, asylum seekers and refugees left in destitution for weeks, people on low incomes, our shielding community members, rainbow families and single parents, struggling artists and gig-economy workers and those less interested in the Twitter dramas and more interested in surviving from day to day.

That’s who we’ve been focussing on – the group of us who roll our eyes when so many politicians stand up at Pride events and talk about how there’s “more to do” yet rarely follow that up with actual resources. This coronavirus crisis has laid bare the reality of a sector which is starved of investment and where half a dozen big charities carve up almost £1million a year from Government.

For us, we knew action was needed immediately. From our hardship relief work in Fife providing access to food and essential aid, to helping people in digital poverty get access to a world which has gone online almost overnight, we stepped up and got to work.

We’ve raised over £88,000 in grants and aid for communities around the country, including 150 care packs to support mental health and wellbeing, more than £8,000 in computers for people cut-off from family and friends, and more than £20,000 in food vouchers or fresh fruit & veg deliveries.

We’ve reached more than 12,000 people with our digital content over the last few weeks, including our 6-part podcast about LGBT elders, our Pink Pride Scotland virtual pride event, and our engaging social media content which has highlighted marginalised voices from around the country.

We’ve supported nearly 20 groups with advice on funding or governance during the pandemic and have directly contributed to groups like LGBT Unity, MATE Edinburgh and D&G LGBT Plus.

You won’t have seen information about any of that in the ‘virtual hug’ emails or community forums run by our “leading LGBT organisations” (we’re not sure why, you’ll need to ask them) but we’ve been working hard to keep supporting community groups and individuals wherever we can, in the face of extremely challenging circumstances for our own organisation.

Ofcourse it’s been hard. Really hard. But we’re moving forward as best we can.

The support of our amazing volunteers like John, Jaxon, Nikki, Scott, Amanda, Will and Colin, who have helped us keep the charity alive over the past 4 months, has been incredible and we’re immensely grateful. So too, the huge efforts of our small staff team, with Dom and Luciano doing a power of work during a turbulent time.

Community partners like Four Pillars, PKAVS, Scene Alba Magazine, MATE Edinburgh and Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus have all been amazing and have shown what collaboration really means in this community. We wish we could say the same about organisations charged with community development at a national level.

Our new Pink Community Network, with 75 members from LGBT groups around the country, has also shown its strength, helping us reach the most isolated and vulnerable people in their communities throughout the crisis.

Lastly, a sincere and heartfelt thanks to sponsors and funders who have shown such faith in our work and have stepped up to help us respond to the hardship needs of LGBT+ people in Scotland. This includes individual donations and purchases from our fundraising store (shameless plug!) and from organisations named above, but also Fife Pride, Fife Centre for Equalities, Foundation Scotland, National Emergencies Trust, Corra Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund, Perth & Kinross Council and The Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund.

Keep checking in for updates on our work, including new digital content through our social channels, opportunities for LGBT filmmakers in Scotland, and important community recovery plans coming soon.

Support authenticity. Support Pink Saltire. ✊🏼

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