COMMUNITY ORGANISATION AWARD FOR LGBT –
ELOP exists to support Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people living in East London. ELOP also works to raise awareness of LGBT issues across London, to confront discrimination, and to influence national policy. This extraordinary organisation has been supporting local and pan-London LGBT communities for 20 years. Set up in 1995, ELOP is the only East London based organisation providing a range of dedicated services specifically for LGBT people. They support 5,000 LGBT people of all ages each year and have an impressive core team of 50 volunteers. In addition, ELOP delivers regular assembly and classroom activities in primary and secondary schools to support LGBT young people and challenge homophobia; this work reaches 2,500 young people each year. Their service to support LGBT asylum seekers was also established 3 years ago in response to the crucial need for this service.
We spoke with Sarah from ELOP after they won The Community Organisation Award for LGBT at The National Diversity Awards 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?
I thought they were all amazing, a truly amazing line up of organisations. We did not know all of them but we were aware of many organisations that we had worked with before. Due to the very strong group of organisations shortlisted it meant it was extremely shocking we had won due to the work done by these other organisations and the complexity of the work that they operate in. It is a hard for all organisations in this current climate to achieve all that we want to and especially difficult for LGBT organisations to obtain funding. There were many organisations doing work that is considered by many to be ‘undesirable’, so extremely difficult areas to obtain funding for. So this was a very strong group of organisations.
What were your thoughts after winning The Community Organisation Award for Age?
We could not attend due to logistics, I was following on twitter and we had no belief that we would win. I jumped out of bed and grabbed my phone to spread the news, we had no idea we would win and we were just so happy. We would have loved to have been there and attended the event and being a part of The National Diversity Awards.
What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?
The team are absolutely delighted! Really chuffed to be recognised nationally as an organisation that really is making a difference. The support we have received through our social media platforms etc has really helped us and those who work really hard within the organisation.
Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, what are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?
Our next steps are to continue the work we are doing. Some of our current objectives are using winning the award to help us gain greater exposure and help elevate the work we are doing. We very recently obtained a little more funding and winning The NDA will enable us to use the opportunity to support us to obtain funding for helping individuals across all areas of society. We are wanting to continue to create safe space for LGBT people or those who need it, especially within main stream organisations and spaces and for all of their identity to be supported.
In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?
I think the work we are carrying out helps people often in crisis point of their life, and support people to stay alive and rebuild – we often hear from those that use our services that ELOP helps them to rebuild and gain hope within their life again. We make a large impact on a personal individual level by giving others the opportunity to meet individuals with a similar background or story. We have conducted training in schools and health organisations and we believe this has educated individuals within these organisations upon the complexity of dealing with LGBT issues and therefore respond more effective when working with LGBT people.
Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?
We’re aware that people often come to us as they often feel like they must make a choice about which part of their identity will be supported but at ELOP they feel they can be their whole self and be open about who they are. We want to allow people to be completely themselves and their whole beings the whole of the time. All of you is important, not just one part and therefore working to support diversity, equality and inclusion and challenging when this does not exist is essential.
Who or What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is ‘it doesn’t take much to change the world’, we started 25 years around a table having a conversation. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, all it takes is people to change things for the better. The knowledge that the work ELOP does is actually life changing for so many people. Our CEO does not seek recognition or praise and continues to provide vision and energy to continue to make the world a better place and her determination to continue until equality is achieved for LGBT people inspired me – it takes dedication to work within a small charity for so many years.
SHARING IS CARING!