Dr Ali Hanbury, Andy Burnham MP, Lord Lieutenant of Manchester, Sally Carr MBE

A Manchester LGBT+ youth charity is asking people to consider buying a brick as an alternative gift for their loved ones this Christmas.

The Proud Trust have launched a Buy a Brick Campaign to raise the final £150,000 they need to help rebuild Europe’s first purpose-built LGBT+ centre on Sidney Street, which has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The centre, which was built in 1988, is no longer fit for purpose and has to be demolished to make way for a brand new £2.4 million rebuild.

Proud Trust director Sally Carr MBE, who joined the charity in 1989 as a youth worker, said there’s a real need for the new centre.

“Our home on Sidney Street was built 30 plus years ago. It was Europe’s first purpose-built LGBT+ centre that is still open and functioning today. Whilst it was pioneering at the time, so much has changed since then, in the numbers of people using the centre, how they access our services, as well as attitudes towards the LGBT+ community from the majority of society.

“The Sidney Street centre was designed and built by Manchester City Council in 1988 at a time when discretion and safety was the top priority for many of the people we worked with. As such, it was created as a place where they could feel protected and free from discrimination.

“Fortunately, we’ve taken huge steps since then and more people than ever are accessing our services. The new centre will still be a safe space, but the aim is to create a bright, welcoming building that’s fit for purpose in 2020 and can house our ever-expanding programme of activities.”

“Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, General Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester City Council and the generosity of countless individuals, we’re over 90% of the way towards our fundraising target of £2.4 million. That’s a fantastic achievement, but we still need that final push to take us over the finish line.”

Nathan Ridding, 22, a user of the centre, said: “This place has kind of become a home to me. It’s where I’ve grown up for the past five or six years since I started coming to one of the youth groups.

“By coming to the centre, I’ve really learned a lot about myself, the LGBT+ community, and I’ve made some friends for life. I’m quite sad that we are losing this space, but the building isn’t serving its purpose anymore and we need to expand. We need spaces that can continue to support the amount of people that access the services here.”

Donations of £100 for individuals or £1,000 for corporates can be made via the charity’s website. All supporters will receive a certificate and have their names recognised with thanks in the new centre.

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