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Newham’s only LGBT youth group fight closure with crowdfunding campaign

PUBLISHED: 11:35 07 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:35 07 April 2015

Paris is the only group supporting the young LGBT community in Newham. It lacks funding and could close by the end of the year.

Paris is the only group supporting the young LGBT community in Newham. It lacks funding and could close by the end of the year.

Archant

The only group supporting the borough’s young gay and lesbian community is facing closure due to a lack of funds.

The Paris LGBT group, supported by charity Aston Mansfield, has kick-started a crowd funding campaign in a bid to keep the club open and raise vital funds.

Headed by Dawn Ballinger, the group runs weekly support groups in Manor Park for youngsters who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender across east London.

One member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the closure of the group could isolate LGBT youngsters in Newham.

“Because it’s the only LGBT group in Newham, this really needs to survive,” she said.

“I know for a fact that if it weren’t for Paris, I’d be a bit lost. Before I didn’t know anyone transgender, gay or lesbian at all – it was so isolating.

“Knowing that there are groups where people can be themselves, it’s amazing and it’s a privilege to be a part of. Even though you see all these things like gay marriage being accepted now, you still hear such negativity anywhere you go.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a popular area for LGBT people, you could still get negative comments on a bus, on a train, walking down the road holding someone’s hands of the same sex – you don’t know when it could happen.”

The crowd funding campaign began with a charity match between the Clapton Ultras and Basildon Football Club at the Old Spotted Dog Ground in Upton Lane last month. The group also hosted a screening of film Pride at Stratford Picturehouse last week.

So far the group, for youngsters aged between 13 and 19, has raised £2,657 and the bidding will end on midnight on April 12.

Group leader, Dawn Ballinger, said: “It is a really important campaign. As well as providing support we also educate students about being gay and lesbian.

“We have worked with a number of schools and we are the only Newham-based organisation committed to this cause.”

Local campaigner Kevin Blowe added: “The charity match was great fun. It’s a brilliant cause and something I believe needs to be supported.”

For more information on the campaign or to donate visit crowdfunder.co.uk/parisyouth

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