Members of the gay community celebrated the launch of LGBT+ drop-in sessions in Sheffield today.
The drop-in sessions, located at The Union Street Centre, will run once a week and provide a range of support including legal advice meetings, career workshops and skill-sharing classes.
LGBT Sheffield, which has launched the sessions, is also planning to run events for parents and siblings of gay people in need of support.
LGBT Sheffield took 18 months to find the appropriate venue and ran a consultation meeting last week to gather ideas for activities.
Kathryn Housley, chair of the group, said she hopes demand for the drop-ins will grow so it can become a full time service and offer a greater range of events.
She also said she was delighted to see support from so many different communities in Sheffield.
She said: “We’ve crossed so many bridges. I am beside myself with excitement.
“I can’t believe we’re actually pulling it off. We’ve been wanting this for so long and now it’s happening.”
George Askwith, Women’s Welfare Officer for the LGBT+ Society at the University of Sheffield, said: “We certainly need more visibility. It is quite strange that most cities have a gay area and we don’t.
“We’ve got a new nightclub that’s opened up, but I’m not a nightclub person. A drop-in space would be really nice.”
David Sharman, aged 47, said he was hoping to meet new people and start a reading group within the community.
He said: “There are places in Sheffield we can go to, but there’s no designated space. For example, if someone is just coming out or is quite sensitive and feels conscious in a public space speaking about their sexuality, this is the space they can go to and hopefully talk a bit more freely without feeling like they’ve got eyes on them.”
Peter Bradley, the Dean of Sheffield, was in attendance at the launch along with the Lord Mayor Talib Hussain and Coun Neale Gibson.
Peter said: “I’m very pleased to show my support. I’m very concerned that key groups are falling behind as funding is removed.
“It’s an opportunity for communities to meet, identify and share problems and look for a way forward.”
Events and workshops will take place at 18-20 Union Street every Tuesday from 10am-6pm.