Club Kali was established in 1995 to provide a safe, confidential space for BAME, LGBTQ people to meet, socialise and get peer support. Originally our beneficiaries (members) were largely older South Asian LGBTQ people who were married, not out etc. We have evolved and now also have younger members who nevertheless continue to experience issues eg, isolation, homelessness, mental health, addiction, etc. More specifically as BAME people with LGBTQ identities, we are the only organisation addressing these intersectionalities through events which celebrate our largely South Asian identities. Club Kali Network for many is the only family they have, it is a safe, welcoming community that is cross-generational, global, and supports individuals to grow and become who we are.
During Covid pandemic, we have not been able to provide any physical events, leaving our beneficiaries isolated, and unable to connect with each other safely. The impact is greatly amplified leaving many feeling alone, experiencing greater mental distress, fear of being found out, self-harm, addiction to online activities, domestic abuse, isolation, etc.
We cannot sustain helping specific individuals who manage to reach out. We urgently need to establish an online strategy which enables our members to connect, reduce isolation and thereby regain a sense of acceptance and belonging to a supportive but safe online community.
We held monthly club events in London, with smaller social events (bowling, meet ups) for BAME LGBTQ people, their friends and allies. We also collaborated with charity and community partners to offer a range of events for our diverse communities.
Our community partners included the health sector, housing, counselling charities offering sexual health advice, testing, referrals etc, through physical stalls at our events. Our small volunteers team at the events provided a listening ear, buddying, introducing individuals to others for support, and sometimes to smaller meet up group partners also present.
The peer support and partnerships enabled members to make friends and access events eg, meet-ups, discussion groups from movies to coming out, support groups. We sign-posted or referred individual's where appropriate eg, legal advice, medical, addition, homelessness. Ultimately, the welcome and acceptance of members from all South Asian faiths, culture and LGBTQI+ identities provides a foundation for personal growth, and recognition of the right to live and love freely, as a basic human right.