CT Pride shelter trust launched

February 15, 2006

The Pride Shelter Trust was officially launched at a function in Cape Town on 8 February. This non-profit organisation is the official beneficiary of Cape Town Pride and was created to establish and manage a shelter, offering safe short-term accommodation to the gay and lesbian community of Cape Town during crisis periods.

The chairperson of Cape Town Pride, Ian McMahon, presented the Pride Shelter Trust with a cheque for R50 000;00 at the launch. �This is money we raised for the Pride Shelter Trust during Cape Town Pride during 2005 and is proof of our commitment to support our beneficiary organisation�, said Ian.

Glenn de Swardt, chairperson of the Pride Shelter Trust, explained why the city needed a shelter specifically for the gay community. �There is a shortage of bed space in existing shelters in Cape Town and trying to get someone experiencing a crisis into a shelter is often impossible. Most existing shelters are for indigent or homeless people and are not necessarily geared towards people experiencing a short-term crisis. On another level, many existing shelters are affiliated to faith-based organisations which are often prejudiced against gay people � this can expose people who are already highly stressed to secondary trauma.�

Glenn commented that Cape Town is already the gay capital of South Africa in that it offers the best range of services for it�s gay and lesbian community. �We�re the best serviced city on the continent of Africa, and in this regard we�re definitely setting an example to other cities and indeed to other countries� he said. However, he questioned Cape Town�s reputation as being particularly �gay friendly�: �In some parts of our city lesbians are at a higher risk than straight women of being raped. Gay and lesbian people continue to experience taunting and verbal abuse, and sadly violence on the grounds of sexual orientation remains a reality�.

It was noted that the Pride Shelter Trust doesn�t have a physical shelter as yet. �We�ve recognized the need for a shelter, and what was a fantasy has now become a vision. We�re focused on raising funds to establish the shelter as soon as possible�.

Glenn was proud to introduced the very distinguished directors of the Pride Shelter Trust, all of whom volunteer their time and expertise to the newly-formed organisation. Zackie Achmat, well-known as the leader the Treatment Action Campaign (with which Zackie was jointly nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize), Dr. Ivan Toms (Director of Cape Town�s health department), the Very Reverend Rowan Smith (the Dean of Cape Town) and Mary Hames (Director of the Gender Equity Unit at the University of the Western Cape), Lorna Martin (professor of forensic pathology at UCT), Dr. Estelle Lawrence (a medical specialist who has a particular interest in the needs of marginalized women), Dr. Gordon Isaacs (professor emeritus of clinical social work at UCT), Toni Sylvester (educational psychologist and community activist, particularly in the Cape Flats), Andrew Massyn (prominent gay attorney) and Dr. Ashraf Grimwood (medical expert and activist in the field of HIV and Aids treatment) bring valued skills to the board of the organisation. Ronnie Ngalo (a youth activist and prominent gay leader in Guguletu) and Ian McMahon (chairperson of Cape Town Pride and businessman) have also agreed to serve on the board. Ian McMahon has been elected treasurer of the Pride Shelter Trust. Glenn de Swardt, chairperson of the Pride Shelter Trust, is best known for his work with Triangle Project. He specialises in MSM mental health issues, is the expert on gay and lesbian issues on the website Health24.com, has consulted internationally and features prominently in the media in response to various gay and lesbian dynamics.

�This is clearly a board with vision, leadership and passion and we�re intent on realising our objective � Cape Town will have a gay shelter as soon as we have raised sufficient funds to ensure its sustainability�, said Glenn.

At the launch of the Pride Shelter Trust it was announced that a prominent Cape Town theatre personality, Peter Hayes, had pledged R25,000.00 towards the organisation. In addition, George du Toit of design company DTPR, attorney Andrew Massyn and Herman Kotze of De Leuwenjagt restaurant each donated a thousand rand. CIA, a focal gay information tourism information centre located in De Waterkant�s Napier Street, were thanked for hosting the launch event.

The Pride Shelter Trust also launched a competition for the design of a logo and a marketing strategy. �We�ll be publishing a brief very shortly and we hope that we�ll come up with something that will keep this project prominently visible�, said Glenn.

Russell Southey, festival director of the 2006 Cape Town Pride festival, encouraged people to support the almost fifty events that are included in this year�s event, to take place from 17 � 26 February. �By supporting Cape Town Pride you�ll be contributing to the Pride Shelter Trust, which is our official beneficiary�.

For detailed information on Cape Town Pride events please visit Cape Town PrideIssued by Glenn de Swardt, Cape Town Pride Festival, Tel 021 4483812

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Launch of Cape Town Pride shelter trust



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