Builders are to start work creating a bespoke £2.4million LGBT+ center for Manchester, the northern capital of LGBT+ Britain.
And TV writer and producer Russell T Davies will get them going by breaking ground on the project on Thursday (6 August).
In June, demolition workers smashed down the old center, which was the first of its kind to be built in Europe.
However, construction teams will now create the three-storey new building. It will create the space the team needs to help an extra 50,000 people a year.
The building will be at Sidney Street, a short walk from the city’s world famous Gay Village centered on Canal Street.
Russell T Davies backs new LGBT+ Centre
Gay writer Davies became famous when he created Queer As Folk. The UK drama series, set in Manchester, brought gay sex to mainstream TV audiences. A US version went on to achieve huge popular success.
In 2005, he led the revival of Doctor Who. The very British sci-fi series went on to become a vital commercial hit for the BBC. And it won Davies fans around the world.
He’s also created Casanova, Years and Years, and The Second Coming. After Doctor Who, he pledged to work solely on gay scripts to raise the representation of LGBT+ people on screen.
Dr Ali Hanbury is from Proud Trust, a UK charity for LGBT+ young people, which is responsible for the center.
She said: ‘We’re extremely excited that Russell T Davies has lent us his support to mark the beginning of building works at our Sidney Street site.
‘Not only is he an internationally acclaimed writer and somebody I have the utmost respect for, he has also been instrumental in bringing the LBGT+ issues to the mainstream through his work.’
A new building for a new LGBT+ generation
The previous LGBT Centre had served the community for 30 years.
It opened in 1988, when safety and discretion were the biggest concerns for many of its users.
As a result, it had high windows, mirrors on reception and no post-box to make LGBT+ people feel safe.
However, nowadays those same security features are making people feel unwelcome. Moreover, the building had fallen into disrepair in recent years. And in 2019, the charity concluded it was no longer fit for purpose.
Hanbury said: ‘Building work was due to start earlier this year but was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic so we’re delighted that we can finally get underway.
‘So many people rely on our centre. [They include] those with addictions, people fleeing from abuse, those at risk of becoming homeless and many people who suffer from acute loneliness.
‘We have been continuing our good work with a virtual LGBT+ centre in the meantime. But to have a physical building again will be brilliant, especially now we will be able to help so many more people and create a thriving hub for LGBT+ people in Manchester.’
Until this year the LGBT Foundation also had a community center on Richmond Street, in the Gay Village. However, the organization says it too outgrew that space and decided not to renew its lease. It is now offering more online services as it sees new premises.