Interview: Charles Dean, Chair of Forum+
We sat down with Charles Dean, chair of Forum+, to chat about IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia) on 17 May 2019.
Could you tell us about forum+ and what you have achieved in your time as chair?
Forum+ is the new name for the Camden & Islington LGBT Forum. We launched our new brand during LGBT History Month at Islington Museum in February. The Forum provides advocacy for LGBT people as well as service delivery for local authorities to help meet their community safety and equalities objectives.
We work in partnership with Islington and Camden Councils, the Police, charities and other statutory bodies to create safer communities and improve the lives of those who have been subjected to hate crime. We also curate the largest annual LGBT themed arts and cultural programme in Europe – LGBT History Month.
Since my time as Chair, I am particularly proud of the progress we have made reaching out to service users and communities beyond our own to forge links around shared interests and in doing so, raising social value.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that LGBT people face today?
In a word, hatred. This can be overt – as in the case of violent hate crime. Or subtle – as in playground bullying or socially excluding people in the workplace. Both reduce the quality of people’s lives, are unacceptable and must be challenged.
What can forum+ do to help people in Islington and Camden address these?
We are one of the foremost charities supporting the victims of hate crime, providing caseworkers and advice on people’s rights, training and advising the police and even going to court to support those making witness statements. Our work has brought criminals to justice, secured tenancies, prevented homelessness and helped those in social isolation. If you have been a victim of hate crime or know someone who has – help us make a safer community by reporting it. Together we make a difference.
How will you be commemorating IDAHOBIT?
I’ll be joining Islington’s LGBT Community and their friends at Islington Museum for a special (and FREE) screening of ‘Milk’. The autobiographical film stars Oscar Winning Sean Penn and charts the life and death of American LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk who died following a homophobic attack. Tickets are available here.
What do you love most about Islington?
The diversity in one small borough. Radical ideas, talent and cultures collide in a joyous riot. It’s a microcosm of society.
If you could change one thing about the borough what would it be?
Getting people off their phones and into some form of activity that helps their physical and mental health. Swimming or volunteering are great places to start.