A local LGBT youth centre which has been described as a pillar for London's LGBT community faces closure after local government spending cuts mean the council can no longer afford to run it.
Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre in Kilburn has been running for 15 years and provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people aged 13 to 19 in what is described as the “most crucial time of their lives”.
The Youth Centre is known as a safe space to meet fellow LGBT peers, with youngsters receiving advice and guidance alongside educational workshops and support through counselling and mentoring.
Mosaic is often the only support the LGBT members have, a safe space they can call their own, where they don't have to 'come out' or fear they will not fit in.
Unfortunately, the council-run support centre will no longer be funded by Brent Council from April 1, as a result of local government spending cuts.
'Not treated as second class citizens'
Rafael Rosa, 17, has been a member of Mosaic Youth Centre in Kilburn since he was 14 and now helps organise events for the centre.
He told getwestlondon: “We've got full-time people who are being made redundant as well as the many members who call Mosaic home.
“People stay here as long as they need to, where we give people a friendly space, teaching them to feel confident to then be able to venture on to the wider world."
Unfortunately the centre, located on Kilburn High Road, will have to move to a temporary space as the rent can no longer be paid, with Mosaic's future now uncertain.
Rafael continued: “Mosaic is important for the whole of London, we get people travelling sometimes an hour and half to get here.
“We are a bespoke service not available in the wider society, LGBT youth is something of a niche market so people travel these great distances knowing it is a place where they are going to get support and not be judged.
“I'd be so grateful if people signed the petition, it shows that these young people are cared about in society and not treated as second class citizens.”
Petition and crowdfunding campaign
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Members of the LGBT youth centre recently created a video highlighting why the upcoming closure of Mosaic just isn't an option for the youngsters.
Using #savemosaic, members wrote down what the centre means to them, with the consensus being a place that the teens can be themselves, be accepted and not be judged by others in society.
The teens have also set up a petition and a crowdfunding campaign in hopes that the centre can keep running for years to come.
The petition, started on change.org, shares an emotional message: “If the council were to remove the funding for Mosaic who would support a community where 40% of us consider suicide, who would give a community which has a high HIV rate sex education, who would help those struggling to accept their sexuality?”
Members of Mosaic will also be protesting outside Brent Civic Centre in Wembley on Wednesday (February 17) from 2pm and encourage others to support them.
A Brent Council spokesman told getwestlondon:
"The council has needed to make a significant reduction to Brent's youth budget so that the local authority can set a legal budget, maintain the services it is legally required to provide, and save £54 million by 2016-17.
"This reduction means that we can no longer directly fund Mosaic. However, we are in the process of commissioning a youth service provider from July 2016.
"Around three out of four of those who access Mosaic live outside of Brent. We have therefore explored whether there is a scope for the cost of specialist LGBT services for young people to be shared with other boroughs and agencies.
"While it may not be possible to sustain specialist provision for LGBT young people on the same scale, we have asked that the new provider targets vulnerable groups including LGBT young people in Brent.
"We also expect that mainstream settings (such as schools, GP, sexual and mental health services) will continue to provide support for LGBT young people, as our consultation indicated that young people valued this.
"We would encourage LGBT young people to engage with the support provided via schools and health services and with the new youth service provider in Brent once this is confirmed."