Forward Leeds is increasing its accessibility to the LGBT+ community further through drop in sessions at Yorkshire MESMAC’s city centre location.
The sessions take place every second Thursday in the month and are open to anyone whether they have concerns about their alcohol or drug use or just would like more information.
Drug and alcohol use is more prevalent in the LGBT communities for a variety of reasons. In a review by the NEPTUNE project, a third of the gay and bisexual men had used drugs in the last year, approximately three times higher than the proportion of heterosexual men who had done so.
Leanne Tomlinson, Lead Practitioner at Forward Leeds said: “This is a great opportunity for Forward Leeds to work more closely with MESMAC, an organisation that is doing amazing community outreach work, we hope that we can follow in their footsteps in providing better services to the LGBT+ community.”
Leanne continued: “Recently there was an ‘LGBT Drug and Alcohol Misuse in Leeds’ event where local services, charities, community members and MPs were invited to come together to discuss how the LGBT community are affected by drug and alcohol use. This gave us a push to get a more concrete offer in place.
“In Leeds, many of the local LGBT community members have reported that there is a high prevalence of high-risk drinking and that most social events occur in alcohol-rich environments where there is a level of peer pressure to engage in drinking behaviours.
“That is why we decided that to bridge the gap and go to individuals directly. This will hopefully build a trust and understanding of what Forward Leeds can offer, help people to look out for their peers and prevent serious drug and/or alcohol dependence.
“We hope that the drop-in sessions will become a trusted and popular support resource for the community. If the sessions prove to be popular, then we hope to increase their frequency.”
Aaron Chady, Community Development Worker at Yorkshire MESMAC said: “We are very excited about this partnership. There is a huge need for accessible and non-judgemental services when it comes to drinking and drugs in the LGBT+ community and it comes at a time when LGBT+ community groups are pushing for more viable dry spaces and social opportunities.”
Yorkshire MESMAC is one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country. They offer services to various communities including men who have sex with men, BME people, people misusing drugs, sex workers and LGB&T young people and adults.
Yorkshire MESMAC have bases in Leeds, York, North Yorkshire, Bradford, Wakefield, Rotherham and Hull.