London LGBTQ+ Community Centre announces new chair and celebrates anniversary

The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre has entered its second year as the sober and intersectional focal point of the queer community in London with the announcement of an inspirational new Chair of the Board.

After a fruitful six-figure crowdfunding campaign in 2018, the community centre was opened in Blackfriars in December 2021. Originally touted as a six-month pop-up, a successful initial period led to a series of contract extensions, culminating in the offer of a five-year lease from Southwark Council for the site, which has seen strong support from local residents and the broader queer community.

Thousands of LGBTQ+ people have passed through the doors of the Centre over the past 12 months. There is now a thriving schedule of over 30 meet-up groups, skills workshops, and support networks including queer book club, film screenings, yoga, meditation, LGBTQ+ youth groups, over 55s meetups, counselling, HIV testing, LGBTQ+ family workshops, language classes, arts and crafts workshops, IT skills, queer history and much more.

As the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre enters a more established phase, it today announced the appointment of an inspirational new Chair of the Board, Raga D’silva (she/her), who will work with Angus Waite (he/they) who will continue on as a co-chair for a period of twelve months.

Raga D’silva is an Indian-born businesswoman and LGBTQ+ advocate, known for her book Untold Lies, detailing her coming out story as a lesbian at the age of 50. The book provoked widespread debate about attitudes towards queer people within the South Asian community.

The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre enters the festive period with plans for free Christmas meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, after supporters crowdfunded 55 meals for those in need, and 2023 will see efforts for more established funding and staffing as the project continues to embed as a vital pillar of support within the London LGBTQ+ community.

Raga D’silva, London LGBTQ+ Community Centre Chair, said:

“Being appointed as a Chair of the London LGBTQ+ Centre is an absolute honour and privilege. It allows me the opportunity to use my own lived experiences, knowledge, expertise and passion to work together with the fantastic team of Trustees and volunteers at the Centre to take it to the next phase.

“The team has a powerful blend of youth and experience and I am personally looking forward to the journey. A welcoming, safe, sober place would have been a lifesaver for me and I want to make sure that people from all communities know we are here for them, especially those like myself whose family and/or communities reject them.

“Such places save lives, and I am delighted to be a part of it. I look forward to welcoming our community and allies to the Centre.”

Angus Waite, London LGBTQ+ Community Centre Co-Chair, said:

“The appointment of such an inspirational chair in Raga D’silva is a testament to the growth in impact and profile that the Centre has achieved in just 12 short months. We are hugely indebted to the work that our staff have put in, led by Bisila Noha (she/her), over the period.

“Raga’s lived experience as a queer woman from India and her clear skills as a businesswoman and LGBTQ+ advocate will radically uplift the positive impact we can have as an organisation.

“As one of the earliest volunteers back in 2017, I feel immensely proud of the contribution of the hundreds of individuals who have helped bring the Centre from idea to reality. We remain at the service of our community, which needs as much love and support this winter as we can possibly provide.”

You can support the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre by becoming a Friend of the Centre.

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