Since 1974 Switchboard has taken more than three million calls from people across the UK looking for a confidential and non-judgemental space – a safe space – to talk and feel supported. “The last five decades has transformed life for our communities, however recent figures showing a two-fold increase in LGBT+ hate crime in England and Wales since 2014 reminds us of the challenges we still face and the necessity of safe spaces” notes Switchboard which partnered with the RANKIN GROUP to create Safe Space.
The multi-stage heavily-typographic typographic advertising campaign to raise awareness of Switchboard's services -especially in areas with poor representation, isolation or high incidence of hate crimes.
“With increased levels of isolation and loneliness, the need for Switchboard is ever-present. It’s these people that we want to reach with the Safe Space campaign, showing that we’re a national service focused on supporting those who need it most” notes Natasha Walker, Switchboard Co-Chair.
Launching at Pride in London 2019, the first phase of the campaign exhibits some of the most common questions posed to Switchboard, from concerns about an LGBT+ loved-one’s well-being to questions about terminology and emotional distress.
Across billboards, social media, print and digital advertising and events up and down the country, the Safe Space campaign is a national call against hate and bigotry as London pride parade, the UK's biggest LGBT event, marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when gay activists clashed with police in New York, kickstarting an equality movement worldwide. The year also marked 30 years since the founding of UK's leading gay rights charity, Stonewall, by a group fighting to repeal Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which sought to prevent the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.
“For years I thought I was pretty in tune with what it was to be LGBTQ+. After all, lots of my friends, acquaintances and frenemies are from the community. Then I read a book by Matthew Todd called 'Straight Jacket'. It was a game changer for me” wrote Rankin on his Facebook profile. “Within three chapters, I realised how little this middle-aged, straight man knew. I had no clue how tough it could be, and that even the most casual of remarks could have such a negative impact. I’ve definitely been guilty of thoughtless comments and assumptions, and I want to continue to learn, understand and appreciate what people go through on a daily basis. So, when it came to working on this Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline campaign, I knew we had to help. Too many people out there feel alone and isolated with no one to talk to and nowhere to go, but this isn’t the case. #Switchboard offers a safe space to discuss anything; from coming out, to trans issues, to work queries, to LGBTQ+ places to go in your area, they are at the end of the phone, on email and instant messenger, with the sole aim of listening and helping. And with new analysis from The Guardian showing that homophobic hate crimes have more than doubled since 2014 across England and Wales and transphobic attacks have trebled over the same period, this fantastic organization is needed now more so than ever. We need to spread the word and let people know that Switchboard is here and ready to give anyone and everyone a #safespace” he adds.
The campaign hits all the right notes as homophobia is on the rise with LGBT people facing “shocking levels of hate crimes and discrimination” -according to a 2017 survey by the charity based on YouGov polling of more than 5,000 LGBT people, one in five had experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation in the previous year. The report also said four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes went unreported, with younger victims particularly reluctant to go to the police notes AlJazeera.
London's Metropolitan Police confirmed the rise in hate crimes, saying the number of incidents went up from 1,488 in 2014 to 2,308 last year. In May, two women on a London bus were physically attacked because they refused to kiss as demanded by a group of men.
The number of transgender hate crimes recorded by the police in England, Scotland and Wales rose by 81 percent last year compared with 2017, according to data collected by the BBC.
Meanwhile in Russia the LGBT activist community is targeted, listed and killed reports radio Free Europe. Obviously, Safe Space is more than needed in UK and beyond.
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