Applications for the Relief and Resilience Fund’s support programs are now open! If you are a LGBTQ+ person who has been impacted by COVID-19, and would like to apply for (1) small cash grants, (2) online support groups and/or (3) face-to-face counseling, please visit bit.ly/lgbtq_relief.
Why are we fundraising?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that crises disproportionately impact vulnerable groups and amplify pre-existing inequalities. LGBTQ+ persons are falling through the cracks, despite government initiatives to address unemployment, domestic violence and mental health issues among the general population.
Before the pandemic, LGBTQ+ persons were already at heightened risk of facing domestic violence. According to our recent survey, which garnered close to 500 responses, 20% of respondents currently live in family environments that are hostile towards their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. LGBTQ+ persons are trapped in homes with unaccepting families, isolated from the people and resources that can support them. This increases the risk of domestic violence, as unsupportive families may resort to violence and abuse to “correct” or punish them for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
60% of respondents are facing challenges with their mental health. Social isolation while living with unsupportive families increases anxiety and depression, with some respondents stating that they have been experiencing suicidal ideation and self-harm.
Due to stigma, LGBTQ+ persons experience high rates of social isolation, are unable to rely on families for support, and may delay seeking mental healthcare due to fears of disclosure or discrimination. Many often seek psychosocial support from friends and community resources. However, they are now cut off from these support systems. A large number of respondents stated that they either cannot afford mental healthcare, or have parents who are unsupportive and unwilling to subsidize their counselling sessions.
Furthermore, anxiety and other mental health concerns are exacerbated by socioeconomic stress. LGBTQ+ persons face systemic disadvantages in employment; many are employed in lower-paying or hourly-wage jobs, without job security, and are unable to work from home. Those who are now unemployed or are facing household income loss have the added stress of acquiring basic needs and other financial burdens, especially LGBTQ+ hourly-wage workers or persons from low income households. 16% of respondents reported a loss of household income, and 15% are now unemployed as a consequence of the pandemic.
What will we do with your donation?
Using this fund, we will be offering three support programs to address the immediate needs of LGBTQ+ persons, as identified in our survey.
1. Grants to support loss of income
We will provide small cash grants to LGBTQ+ individuals who have lost their job(s) or reduced income, and are struggling to support themselves and their families. These grants will be used to support the payment of bills and utilities, purchase basic necessities and other needs such as medical services.
2. Online support group
We will hire a trained LGBTQ-sensitive counsellor to facilitate a series of online support group sessions, given the challenges LGBTQ+ persons are facing with mental health and heightened calls for psychosocial support. These open support group sessions will be free-of-charge and open to all. They will provide a safe and inclusive space for mutual support during these trying times.
3. Face-to-face counselling sessions
We will purchase counselling hours from LGBTQ-affirming providers and sponsor these hours to LGBTQ+ individuals who are struggling with their mental health. We understand that online support groups require safe and private spaces, which is not available to those living in hostile family environments.
Brave Spaces is a non-profit organisation that develops programmes, provides social services, organises events, and conducts research and advocacy to empower women in Singapore.
Sayoni is a community of queer women, including lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, who organise and advocate for equality in wellbeing and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.