The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety will be offering safety classes to LGBTI communities all over Scotland.
This move comes in response to concerns that LGBTI people are often the subject of physical or verbal attacks.
The centre’s executive director Alan Bell said: “We will shortly be offering a range of classes which will equip people to defend themselves from physical attack and verbal abuse. Groups or individuals can come to our new base or we can go to them.”
The charity, which was previously cyber based, has recently set up camp in the Ayrshire seaside town of Ardrossan. This came as a surprise to some as the small town, once popular with Glasgow holiday makers, has not always been the most progressive area with equal rights.
Local resident and Youth Worker Garry Tait, who played a key role in forming one of the first LGBTI youth groups, said: “Ardrossan and the surrounding towns are not known for being the greatest place for anyone seen as being different. It is more acceptable for some families to have a son or daughter with a criminal record than to be part of the LGBTI community. However, things are changing.”
The boost for the area will see the centre set up home in the former Church of Scotland Barony St. Johns Church on the picturesque sea front, less than 400 feet from the Ardrossan Unionist Club – which still has a ban of females entering the social club (other than to clean or serve behind the bar).
Mr Bell told Kaleidoscot: “This is going to be a centre for the community. By December we will be offering a range of classes involving self-defence, fitness classes and possibly dance classes.
Our extensive plans include a café, dormitory and a function suite. The setting within the former church will offer those who wish to have a traditional wedding without the religious aspect and now with marriage equality it is an exciting time to be embarking on this project.”
While the centre is reaching out to LGBTI communities, it is also aiming to serve as a focal point for community development – providing practical training to businesses, schools, nurseries and other groups.