A new program of events across Perth and Kinross will aim to reduce isolation and loneliness for the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over the next two months.
The ‘Rainbow Heartlands’ project will see LGBT+ charity Pink Saltire coordinate a program of activities and events to get people back together again in February and March after many months apart.
The project, which is funded by Perth and Kinross Council and the National Lottery Community Fund, will also deliver a new digital hub which will help give people easier access to information on groups and events in the region, as well as a better understanding of the needs of the community.
Research conducted by the charity in 2020 identified that more than two-thirds of LGBT+ people felt isolated, rising further for those in more rural parts of Scotland.
Pink Saltire has supported community work to establish the hugely successful Perthshire Pride and has recently been consulting on an upcoming dedicated venue for LGBT+ services in Perth.
Working with local organizations and businesses like Perth Parrots, PKAVS and Scene Alba, the charity is encouraging locals to come out and enjoy safe events in person again, with taster sessions and arts classes among the first to be published in the programme.
The new website will launch on February 1 at Heartlands.lgbt, a site that will be a focal point for the range of services and activities available to LGBT+ people in the area.
The charity is also keen to hear from local businesses or groups who’d like to run an event for the LGBT+ community – if anyone has any ideas Pink Saltire wants to know.
Matt Wester, Rainbow Heartlands project officer, said: “We want to provide the people of Perth and Kinross with something new and different.
“For those who identify as LGBT+ it’s important to recognize their individual skills and abilities – providing opportunities to develop skills and to try new things can really help lift our mood and helps us meet new people.
“Although we acknowledge COVID is a worry for many people, we want to show that events and activities can happen safely – whether it’s by joining an arts group or trying a sport for the first time, it all helps.”
Perth and Kinross Council equalities lead, Councilor Peter Barrett, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the fantastic Rainbow Heartlands project launching next month. It will provide our LGBT+ communities across Perth and Kinross with great opportunities to get together again after a long period apart due to the pandemic.
“It is our hope that other groups and organizations will be inspired to take part, and we encourage anyone who would like to participate, or is thinking of organizing some events along with Pink Saltire to get in touch with them.”
Dougie Scott from Perthshire Pride said: “As restrictions are easing, Perthshire Pride is delighted to be involved with such an incredible project led by Pink Saltire to once again bring LGBTQ+ social events to the region.
“It is great to see a diverse program of activity that will engage the LGBTQ+ community, focus on improving mental health within the community and support local LGBTQ+ groups and businesses.”
Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.