As we hugged, danced, laughed and cried our way through this year’s GALAs awards on February 18 2020, little did any of the joyous guests think that it would be the last time they would be on a dance fl oor for months, and that we would think back on those hugs in the glittering Round Room with longing, and disbelief that our lives could change so quickly.
In the following weeks, COVID-19 quickly transformed our worlds and suspended or shut down so many things that we had taken for granted. It is hard to gauge the true impact of the pandemic on our physical and mental wellbeing and perhaps it is only in the fullness of time that the ramifi cations, on all aspects of our lives, will be known and fully understood. We are reminded by the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown survey released this week that it is a challenge for all, and not least our own community. The research fi ndings from this survey focus a spotlight on the challenges facing LGBTQ+ people in Ireland from the immediate eff ects of COVID-19 earlier this year. It was conducted by LGBT Ireland, in partnership with the National LGBT Federation (NXF) and GCN.
The survey sought the views of people on the range of impacts of the fi rst COVID-19 lockdown, including mental health, physical health, home life, work and community as well as looking at the awareness of LGBTQ+ services, specifi cally those off ered by LGBT Ireland. The results of the survey are stark and worrying. Figures that jump out include over 62 percent of respondents reporting a decline in their mental health – signifi cantly higher than the 51 percent of the general population found by the Mental Health Reform survey. Over 41 percent of respondents reported a decline in their physical well-being. Six out of every ten surveyed said that COVID-19 had a signifi cant impact on their ability to interact with their community.
It remains the case that we must press our elected representatives to invest in support for our community. The launch of the fi ndings will be shared widely, in particular with our legislators, to put it fi rmly on their agenda.
Working to maintain connection, whether that is through the power of tech, or on a socially distant walk, has been a feature of people’s lives these past few months. The energy and tenacity of the team at GCN to ensure “connection for the community” has been remarkable, and their eff orts have been rightly rewarded in the most recent funding announcements by Rethink Ireland for their In&Out Series. The superb digital off erings coordinated by the GCN team with and for the community have brought fun, energy and enthusiasm into our lives. And while we cannot currently get together in person, we look forward to a time - hopefully in the not too distant future -when gatherings where we can dance, laugh, and hug, become the norm. You may have all noticed that a decision to press pause on the print publication of GCN was taken. The publication of the print edition of GCN this month is down to the work and grit of the GCN team. It still remains true that now more than ever, we need your continued support, whether that’s by availing of an online subscription or signing up to support an event.
Speaking of support, NXF held their annual strategy day with a focus on how to plot the way forward over the coming 12 months. Trying to plan, but also remaining conscious of COVID-19, and operating in that environment, was to the forefront of people’s minds. Despite the challenges, there are lots of exciting projects that we are getting off the ground; not least a series of impactful research projects, community initiatives and public engagement events. To that end, NXF is always looking for support and volunteers! Your community needs you. If you feel that you have the time, energy and enthusiasm and skillset to participate, feel free to get in touch with NXF on email@example.com
Stay connected and stay safe, Board of the NXF (National LGBT Federation) Caroline (Chair), Steve (vice-Chair), Brendan (Treasurer), Steve (Secretary), Claire, Chris, Mary, Adam.