A leading Scottish LGBTI sports organisation, LEAP Sports Scotland, and the Highland LGBT Forum have come together in a new joint initiative following a successful bid to the Scottish Government’s Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund.
They will be setting up a one year project which will aim to reduce the social, geographic and identity isolation that LGBTI people in the Highlands often experience.
The Highland Region with a total land area of 26,494 square kilometres is the largest local authority area in the UK, but has a population of just under 27,000 and a population density of only 9 people per square kilometre. Reaching out to such a dispersed population with many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and intersex people isolated in small remote communities presents major challenges. However, despite this, the Highland LGBT Forum was last year twice shortlisted for national LGBTI community awards for its work in providing a wide range of services.
The Forum’s aims are to preserve and protect the mental and physical health and social welfare of LGBTI people in the Highlands, and to promote fair and equal treatment by challenging the stigma and discrimination experienced at both community and personal level.
Darren Rutherford, Chair of the Highland LGBT Forum said: “We are delighted to be partnering with LEAP Sports to deliver this much needed project to our community living across the Highlands. In a membership survey last year, 82% identified that more support was required for community members and groups, and we are very pleased to be taking this significant step towards making that a reality.”
Hugh Torrance, Executive Director of LEAP Sports Scotland said: “We have recognised that we need to be doing more to support LGBTI communities who live in rural and remote areas of Scotland and that access to community, sports and health initiatives are very different in those areas. We are excited to be working with the Forum and look forward to growing some new sport, activity and health improvement opportunities in the area.”
As part of the initiative, it is hoped to employ a Project Officer, initially on a one year contract.
The Highland LGBT Forum has an interactive website containing information on a range of events and initiatives.
Further information on the work of LEAP Sports Scotland can be found on their website.