Proud to be ‘Made in Manchester’: brand new £2.4million LGBT+ Centre,
On the cusp of Pride Month, LGBT+ youth charity The Proud Trust, unveiled its new, state-of-the-art LGBT+ centre, which over the past four years, has undergone a massive £2.4million redevelopment. The centre, based on Sidney Street, is proud to have been made and perfected by local creative talent, suppliers, resources, and history.
The Proud Place, cared for by The Proud Trust, is now a homely, welcoming space spanning three floors, where LGBT+ people can access youth and community groups and support workers, as well as making meaningful connections with peers in the LGBT+ community at a range of events.
Now a bright gold building that stands proudly where the old structure stood, the centre has been transformed from a dark, gloomy and unwelcoming space; to one that has been designed to feel light, airy, open and to make visitors feel at ease and ‘at home’.
“It’s an honour for The Proud Trust to take care of such an important building on behalf of Manchester’s LGBT+ Community and we’re excited for this next chapter in our history,” said new CEO Lisa Harvey-Nebil.
“Our beautiful new home is such a far cry from the original building, which was built for privacy in the days when many people in our community were fearful of accessing services.
“Manchester is such a wonderful and iconic city and it’s been our home for over thirty years. We knew we wanted to incorporate as much of it in our transformation as we possibly could. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of not only other businesses and organisations but extremely talented individuals.”
The charity, with its new space is set to welcome 16,000 visitors each year, has collaborated with a long list of Manchester-based individuals, organisations and businesses to create a space they are extremely proud of.
URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) Ltd, an award-winning design and research consultancy based in Manchester, who believe in building sustainable towns and cities and enabling good design were used by The Proud Trust to design the building.
Ste Garlick commented on how through collaboration The Proud Place’s vision has come to life: “User involvement has been key to the vision, brief and the design of The Proud Place. URBED’s co-design process involved staff, volunteers, and user groups of the centre. This has informed decisions on all aspects of the project, from the layout and spaces within the building to the golden external appearance. Since the very start of the project, The Proud Place has been created collectively.”
As well as the design being created and driven by city-based architects, counter tops, tables, and furniture are not brand new, rather up-cycled wood from other famous Manchester buildings.
Lisa continued: “We feel very privileged that the building itself is weaved with Manchester’s history. Tables and counter tops dotted around the multiple floors are reclaimed wood from both Manchester Velodrome (National Cycling Centre) and Manchester Town Hall all thanks to local charity Emerge Touchwood. We have ensured that at every stage of the journey we worked with local organisations to create spaces that are not only steeped with history, but it’s resulted in a real feeling of love and care being felt in the building, many people have said it feels like home.”
Other local organisations such as FallnTrunk and Old Man and Magpie have also supplied unique one-off pieces to the centre.
Lisa said: “When it came to decorating the building, we again wanted to make sure that it was inspired and created from people in the city. We are absolutely besotted with the pieces in and around the centre – we honestly can’t thank the artists enough. They simply are talented individuals with huge hearts.”
Local artists including Hammo, Meha Hindocha, Jay Neville, Seleena Daye and Sarah Joy Ford, were commissioned to create original themed artworks which are displayed throughout.
“The Proud Trust and The Proud Place is a wonderful space where young people can express their authentic selves without judgement,” commented Meha Hindocha whose Manchester skyline mural, including the new building, fills a wall on the second floor.
“It’s somewhere for young LGBT+ people to meet other like-minded young people and develop new skills. Having facilitated workshops for young people at The Proud Trust in the past I’ve really been inspired by the work the team have done creating this space and building such a wonderful atmosphere. I felt really honoured to be involved with creating a mural for the team.
“I designed a Manchester skyline for the trust which has a golden tree running through the architecture. The tree links to The Proud Place building which is also in gold. The inspiration behind the tree is to reflect the impact The Proud Trust has giving young people roots and a space to grow and blossom and immerse the LGBT+ community into the whole city.”
Sarah Joy Ford, who created a textile piece of The Proud Trust’s logo for the new building spoke about her involvement: “I was so delighted to make the piece for the new building. As a lesbian artist and someone who advocates for LGBT+ rights, culture, community and support it was such a thrill to be involved in something so important as the opening of a new queer space. Especially one that’s supports young LGBT+ people.
“I think that’s really meaningful to me because growing up in the shadow of section 28, in a semi-rural place, it just blows my mind that young LGBT+ people now have the opportunity to access support and community through organisations like The Proud Trust and what a difference that makes to young people’s lives. Any part that I can have in that is really important to me.
“I love the idea of having a logo that’s not just a vinyl corporate sticker. Making the logo in velvet symbolises the warmth, softness, and the care that The Proud Trust does in its work. I look forward to working with them again in the future.”
Furthermore, the centre also features lots of pieces of art created by The Proud Trust’s young people, including prints from trans poetry competition Transcriptions (2019) and Ticket to Pride raising awareness of Hate Crime. https://www.theproudtrust.org/about-us/showcase/past-events-and-projects/
Finally, the centre has placed right at the heart of the building its heritage library. Surrounded by yellow bricks that echo the original 1988 building’s design, the library features the original ‘gay centre’ sign as well as newspaper clippings documenting the Centre’s history from the 1970s through to today. As well as the main downstairs space being decorated with a timeline, aptly named ‘This is how we got here’ of the centre’s journey spanning over 30 years.
Lisa ended: “We’ve come a long way from 1988 and our new building proudly reflects that, we hope it will be a centre that provides joy, warmth, hope, support, solace, and optimism for all of its users for many years to come.”
The development of The Proud Place was made possible by the generosity of many organisations and individuals, all of whom the charity would like to thank for their support. A physical wall of thanks displaying the names of corporate funders and individuals will be displayed on the roof terrace and can also be viewed virtually here: https://www.theproudtrust.org/theproudplac