Ribbon cut on new premises

NEW PREMISES: Labour councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher and Christopher Akers-Belcher cut the ribbon alongside Hart Gables manager Joanne Fairless.
NEW PREMISES: Labour councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher and Christopher Akers-Belcher cut the ribbon alongside Hart Gables manager Joanne Fairless.

A HIGH profile same-sex couple have officially opened the new premises for a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Labour councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher and Christopher Akers-Belcher cut the ribbon at Hart Gables, which has moved to York Road from its former base in South Road. The two both sit on Hartlepool Borough Council.

Staff at Hart Gables organised the drop-in launch event so it coincided with the annual International Day Against Homophobia.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, who represents the Rossmere ward, said: “Stephen and I were asked to open the new centre and we were delighted to help because we know how valuable it is.

“I would encourage people to call in to see what is on offer, especially those that are struggling to identify their sexuality and any person that is a victim of a hate crime.”

Sarah Lewis, hate crime officer at Hart Gables, said: “We would encourage people to come along and see what services we offer.”

Hart Gables, which supports the LGBT community in Hartlepool, has more than 100 members. There are drop-in sessions for people to discuss issues ranging from sexual health to crime awareness. There’s also a one-to-one support service and staf can signpost people to other services.

The centre, close to the Elwick Road junction, relies on grant funding and bosses have managed to secure funds for the next 12 months.

For more information call (01429) 236790.