The LGBT Center of Greater Reading and Safe Berks have agreed to expand their partnership to include a Safe Berks advocate onsite at the LGBT Center to combat sexual assault and domestic violence in underserved communities. The initiative is part of a broader effort by Safe Berks, and the LGBT Center is one of the first community partners to sign on.
“We believe that partnerships like this are one of the key weapons to combat hate, aggression, and violence in our communities,” said Michelle Dech, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. “We have experienced the degree to which sexual assault and domestic violence can impact the LGBTQIA+ community, and we know that these issues intersect with other communities. Together we can do more.”
The Safe Berks initiative places advocates at community partnership locations. The LGBT Center advocate will be available several hours each week. A standard schedule will be posted on social media platforms and made available on the LGBT Center website. These services will complement the LGBT Center’s existing free counseling services to better support community members mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Safe Berks is the non-profit organization that provides services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Berks County. Services are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Safe Berks 24-hour Hotline is 844-789-SAFE (7233) or text SAFE BERKS to 20121.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than straight people. Additionally, studies suggest that around half of transgender people and bisexual women will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. Partnerships like that between the LGBT Center of Greater Reading and Safe Berks support the identification of root causes of disparities and remove barriers to care access.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with the LGBT Center of Greater Reading by providing Safe Berks advocates onsite,” said Stacey Jordan, Managing Director of Community Engagement at Safe Berks. “We are incredibly grateful to the LGBT Center for this opportunity to serve survivors in a supportive environment where they already feel safe and valued.”
The LGBT Center of Greater Reading was previously located on North 13th Street in Reading. All operations and services have now shifted to the new Centre Park location, and an annual calendar of events will be released soon. They will continue to partner and collaborate with over 100 additional local social services, public health, family, and other organizations to provide comprehensive support to members of southeast Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ+ community. Those in need of support or information can contact the Center at (484) 513-3170 or visit www.lgbtcenterofreading.com.