Belfast Telegraph

Newry LGBT community group faces closure without financial support

A Newry-based LGBT community group is facing closure unless they can raise over £200k.

Rainbow House in Newry have said they will have to close in April due to a lack of funding available to the group.

The group was founded in 2001 and acts as a community centre and an umbrella group for a range of different LGBT organisations in the greater Newry area.

They have now started a gofundme page and a range of other initiatives to raise the money needed to keep the facility alive.

The organisation is currently based in Monaghan Street, Newry but hopes that their fundraising efforts will allow them to move to a new bespoke premises.

They plan to contact 2018 sponsors to ask for a £100 donating raising £201,800.00 in the process.

Rainbow House plan to honour all donors by having their names listed on a plaque at the new Rainbow House facility, if succesful.

Chairperson of the Newry Rainbow Community Rory Rafferty talked about the important work the group does in the Newry, Mourne and Down areas.

"We have saved and improved lives through our extensive range of services available to everyone in our local community regardless of sexuality, gender nationality or religion," he said.

"These services have included befriending, sexual health screening, counselling, drop in and social events. Rainbow House has been a beacon of hope and valued asset to the entire community.

"2018 sees Northern Ireland and Rainbow House in a period of flux i.e: without a rights-based society or a government to implement legislation that is available in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland."

Mr Rafferty said that the LGBT community in Newry faced many issues.

"We live in one of the most homophobic places in Europe and have a disproportionately high LGBT suicide rate, where LGBT people, their families and their relationships are not recognised via equal marriage.

"We are also lacking a sexual orientation or gender identity strategy resulting in funding for vital services being at an all time low. It has been our pleasure to serve the community since 2001."

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