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As I stood inside the building looking out, I noticed most people walked straight past without even noticing us. Occasionally someone would look in, possibly because the door was open for a change. The empty shell that is to become The Ledward Centre currently looks fairly unremarkable, but it soon became clear to me that will most definitely change.
Duncan, one of the Directors, kindly offered to show me around the building, while attending to a couple of tasks there. Looking through the windows of the modern space adjacent to Jubilee Library on Jubilee Street, it’s easy to think “yes, it will be good”. Once inside though, it becomes clear this is a wonderful space that, hopefully before not too long, will become the beating heart of the LGBTQ+ community in Brighton.
As we headed down the broad staircase, one word instantly came to mind. Wow! Being a founding member of the volunteer team at The Ledward Centre (one of many, such is the interest in the Centre arising from the love for James Ledward, after whom it is of course named), I had seen photos of the area upstairs and downstairs, but it was only by being there I grasped the extent of the area available and the possibilities this affords the community.
A detailed community survey is helping to identify what the Centre should and most likely will contain. A fantastic, welcoming café upstairs. Downstairs, multi-purpose spaces for use by the entire LGBTQ+ community. Art displays, meeting rooms, hot desk facilities, a radio studio, a teenage hang-out space, relax/catch-up areas, a cinema. Walking through what is tantamount to a TARDIS (sorry, Whovians), the subterranean area just seems to go on and on. There are lots of nooks and crannies (I do love a good nook, not to mention the occasional cranny), some of which will possibly remain, but it’s clear the space is so incredibly versatile that only wonderful things will result.
The building has enormous potential, but there’s no doubt a lot of time, effort and money will be needed to actually deliver potentially the UK’s premier LGBTQ+ community centre. The volunteers are revving up (it will be crucial to have lots of volunteers involved) and funding applications are pending, but here’s hoping there are also some kind individuals out there who are also able to provide additional financial support, so James Ledward’s dream can really come to fruition in such a way that even he would be impressed!
– Scott Davidson, Ledward Centre Volunteer
Groups and organisations serving the LGBTQ+ community are welcome to make an appointment to visit the Centre and to discuss your needs with the leadership team. Please contact Duncan Lustig-Prean, Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will gladly show you around the building and talk about how the Centre can help your organisation.