Pioneering new Health and Wellbeing centre set to open its doors to Birmingham’s LGBT community

The LGBT Health and Wellbeing Centre is set to address the problems of health inequalities that LGBT people face in the city of Birmingham. Isn’t it time that the NHS set out to do the same nationally?

Research has identified important relational barriers between LGB patients and some healthcare professionals due to both homophobia and a lack of understanding of the diverse needs of the LGB and T community by healthcare professionals. In addition to relational barriers identified, studies carried out by the University of Birmingham have found:

  • A High prevalence of breast cancer in lesbians and low smear test rates
  • High levels of smoking amongst LGB Community (45%) which is much higher than in the generic population
  • High rate of self-harm (25%), suicide attempts (40%), and anxiety and depression (30%) which was 2-3 times higher than the general population
  • High levels of drug use and eating disorders in gay men

Opening to the public on the 29th January 2013, the Health and Wellbeing Centre is the first of its kind to open in England and Wales and will strive to address the health inequalities within the LGBT community. The centre has unveiled plans to work alongside other service providers to target the issues which disproportionately affect the LGBT community such as high the rates of smoking and drinking, self-harm, depression and attempted suicide.

Located close to the heart of the city’s Gay Village on Holloway Circus in Southside, the centre will also aim to act as a ‘one-stop shop’, providing a support facility for the LGBT community and offering an on-site training room to host LGBT community activities.

Steph Keeble, director at Birmingham LGBT, said: “Opening the Health and Wellbeing Centre is a pivotal step in addressing the health inequalities suffered by the LGBT community across Birmingham and beyond. The centre will be an innovation in the way the LGBT community tackles its health issues and provide an on-going support network for all, which is why it’s so inspirational to be a part of.”

The new centre has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Programme, Birmingham City Council Adults & Communities Directorate in addition to PR and marketing support from Southside Business Improvement District.

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “I’m proud that Birmingham City Council has supported this significant new development. We are committed to working in tough times for fairness, social justice, enterprise, innovation and accountability, offering the best chances for the next generations of all our communities. We want to see an inclusive city, with a fair chance for everyone in Birmingham, including Birmingham’s LGBT communities.”

Julia Chance, BID manager for Southside BID, adds: “The Health and Wellbeing Centre is a state-of-the-art practice and will provide an unrivalled new paradigm to Southside and the people residing within the Gay Village. I’m delighted that Southside is able to home such an asset and we’re all very excited to see what positive changes it will bring.”