Safe Haven – Cornwall has developed from the original small scale coffee mornings started for transgender people in 2014, These were started as Paula realised there was no provision whatsoever for transgender or non-binary people in Cornwall.( We use the term “Trans” to cover the entire spectrum of gender variance, not purely people who are fully transitioning from one gender to another).
It quickly became apparent that many trans females never left the house in female mode, due to fear of being verbally abused or recognised. This caused huge issues with isolation and social exclusion. Due to having her own private venue/function rooms on her property, Pixie and Paula had the ideal location to provide a safe, supportive environment for people to come out and meet others in similar situations to themselves. It was also to allow people the space to explore who they are, where their journey is going, how much their gender variance affects their day to day lives, how dysphoric they feel and how to proceed.
From starting with coffee mornings they then, in 2015, started holding an evening party, purely social, every month. This developed into an Event weekend, which we now hold event every month. This provides enormous opportunities for peer to peer support, Each weekend normally involves a ‘chat’ evening on a Friday, a workshop / outing on Saturday afternoon, a social evening with music and sometimes live music on a Saturday evening, and for those who choose to stay overnight, a hearty breakfast and chat on Sunday mornings.
Safe Haven started to run facilitated Support Groups. After starting with a weekly group for trans and non-binary people, which welcomes cross dressers as warmly as someone transitioning -all are equal. We then started a fortnightly support group for the parents, partners and family members of Trans people, a fortnightly group for Teens, and a monthly meeting which is open to all. These all provide an opportunity to be able to talk honestly about how things affect them, their fears and hopes.
As we grew it became more and more difficult for Paula and Pixie to organise and contribute sufficient funding to keep pace. We set up as a Charitable Organisation with Trustees in March 2018, and have recently been recognised as a Registered Charity. We are funded by a variety of Grants, donations and our efforts at fund-raising, mainly though attendance at local Prides and other public events where we also promote awareness of gender diversity and our organisation.
We were successful in being selected as finalists in the Community Organisation Award for LGBT category at the National Diversity Awards in 2018.