Late on Friday afternoon we herd the very sad and shocking news that one of our fellow LGBT services, Pace, is to close this week after 31 years providing mental health support to LGBT people.
We’re very saddened to hear this; Pace has been a partner with us over the years, most recently as a member of the National LGB & T Partnership, working to ensure the voice of LGBT charities and the experiences of our service users is heard by NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health.
Is is especially saddening to hear about the difficulties Pace experienced in securing funding. We too are concerned about the longer-term sustainability of specialist LGBT services, with cuts to central and local government funding and to public health spending. This is worrying trend for the LGBT charity sector, which as is stands accounts for just 0.04% of voluntary sector funding overall – our entire sector receive just 4p in every £100 of charity income.
Due to having to find efficiencies within their own teams, there is now a tendency for commissioners to seek large single contracts, a process which excludes LGBT services from most tendering processes. Equally there is no guarantee larger providers such as drug treatment, smoking cessation or mental health services, will want to sub-contract to LGBT providers to ensure that their services reach diverse communities.
The short and long term effect on LGBT people of the closure of Pace remains to be seen. We anticipate an increase in demand for our counselling service, as people begin to look elsewhere, which could increase waiting times considerably.
For now our thoughts are with the volunteers, staff, and above all, service users of Pace as they come to terms with this sad news. We wish them all well, and thank you for your great work over the years. You’ll be sorely missed.
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