Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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I’ve been targeted because of what I do, says Carlisle equality man

A Carlisle man recognised for his work with minority groups has revealed how he has been the victim of more than a dozen vandalism attacks because of what he does.

Glenn Anderson photo
Glenn Anderson

Glenn Anderson said that his efforts to give a voice to people of all sexual orientations even led to a family member being assaulted because of their links with him.

Despite this, the 42-year-old insists he is proud of his work over the past seven years and honoured to be shortlisted in the campaigner of the year category at this year’s European Diversity Awards.

He has been nominated for his efforts to change attitudes and spearhead support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Cumbria.

The awards recognise organisations and individuals which have shown innovation, creativity and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Mr Anderson is behind the LGBT HQ centre in Fisher Street, Carlisle, and was involved in the creation of the city’s gay-friendly bar Outrageous. He also plays a leading role in the Cumbria Pride event.

Mr Anderson said: “This is the biggest award in the world for equality. I’ve been nominated by a few people and just to have that nomination is wonderful, but to be then shortlisted and get into the top eight from across Europe is staggering. I almost didn’t recognise that as my name on the list.

“I’ve been nominated because of my stance on equality and trying to make the world a better place for all people, regardless of things like gender and race, as well as for being a representative of minority groups over the years. I am trying to make the north west corner of England more accepting and tolerant of minority groups.”

He added: “It’s hard to believe my name is up there with the likes of others who are involved in large scale things elsewhere in Europe when you consider what is happening in places like Russia.”

His desire to raise awareness of the LGBT community has not been easy.

Mr Anderson said that he has been the victim of more than a dozen vandalism attacks over the last seven years while working on his ventures in Carlisle.

Despite this, Mr Anderson’s ambition to open a dedicated centre was fulfilled about 18 months ago.

The Fisher Street centre offers a community cafe, night spot and a range of drop-in and confidential counselling services.

“I’ve not done this for personal gain,” he said.

“It has financially crippled me because there is no central funding and things like this don’t come for free.”

About £120,000 has been raised locally to help cover costs since the centre opened, with less than £20,000 coming from public funds.

Numbers visiting the centre vary from 200 to 2,000 people a week.

“There are five or six people who put their heart and soul into this building to make sure services are free for those who need them,” Mr Anderson said.

“I’m personally humbled about this but I would not have been able to make change in Cumbria if it was not for the wonderful people who have played their part.

“There are those like the people at the Steam Packet in Workington, and those who have been there for those living in rural areas as well as those who dedicate themselves to what we have at the centre.

“Cumbria needed to change and we are very fortunate that organisations such as the police and the councils have embraced what we are trying to do and are supportive and getting involved.”

Mr Anderson will find out on October 2 if he has won the award, at a glittering event at the Natural History Museum, London.


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