An Interview with METRO Charity

An Interview with METRO Charity
When you think of equality and diversity, you seldom think self storage, right? Actually, Safestore has supported METRO Charity for almost a decade by providing much-needed storage space for the resources and equipment utilised in their many activities; from promotional materials to clinic tests kits as well as office supplies and publications. Since 2008, Safestore has helped METRO to deliver their vital services. In 2015 alone, METRO provided over 80,000 occasions of service, and over 4,000 service users were registered each quarter.
 

Where it all began

METRO was established in 1984 and has become a leading equality and diversity charity, providing health, community and youth services across London and the South East, with national and international projects. METRO works with anyone experiencing issues around sexuality, gender, equality, diversity and identity across five domains: Sexual & Reproductive Health, Community, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Youth and HIV.
 
Originally operating under the name The Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Centre and providing telephone advice and support groups, the charity broadened its remit in 1994, working in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations to serve lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people and those questioning their sexuality.
 
Over the next decade and beyond, METRO has extended their services beyond Greenwich, and across South East London, until eventually, they began working not only across the whole of London, but nationally and internationally. In early 2008, the membership of METRO agreed to amend their Constitution to provide services to all people experiencing issues related to sexuality, gender, identity and diversity.
 

Services available through METRO

From its inception, METRO has taken a holistic approach to LGBT health and wellbeing. They offer over a hundred different services, including:
  • Online, clinic and outreach STI testing and sexual health information.
  • Support for LGBT victims of hate crime and domestic abuse alongside social and peer support groups.
  • Counseling and mental health drop-in sessions.
  • LGBTQ youth groups and diversity work with schools.
  • HIV prevention and support services for those living with HIV.
METRO continue to acknowledge that their ability to create supportive environments for LGBT people depends not only on their strengths as an organisation, but also on their capacity to build alliances and partnerships that empower all people who confront discrimination.
 
In recent years the charity has developed a range of services that address the needs of specific communities, such as the African, South American and East European people and families affected by HIV. METRO are also always looking for international partners interested in adapting some of their innovative service delivery models to their own context, developing new services in partnership with them or undertaking research. For instance, METRO’s partnership with AIDS Alliance Ukraine brought the award-winning METRO Safe programme to sites in Kiev, Odessa, Donetsk and Krivoy Rog.
 

Growing support

METRO strive for every interaction to be a success. 
  • In 2015 they provided over 80,000 occasions of service.
  • Over 4,000 service users were registered each quarter.
  • They offered over a hundred different services across our 5 domains with a focus on young people, which corresponded to 74% of their service users. 
In partnership with two other charities, METRO’s World AIDS Day campaign reached over 830,000 people, engaged over 4,000 people, with more than 250 HIV tests provided on top of their regular clinic testing.
 
So much of their success is only made possible by collaboration with partners like Safestore and they plan to achieve even more in 2017.
 

How to find out more

METRO’s services are listed on their website www.metrocentreonline.org. Any person experiencing issues around sexuality, gender, identity, diversity or equality is encouraged to access their services. 
 
You can also help by joining as a volunteer –  current volunteer roles are listed on their website. Or, if you would like to make a donation to support their vital work, the easiest way is through their JustGiving page.

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