“It’s about bringing together Merton’s LGBT+ people,” says Erin Cowhig-Croft of new group, MertonPlus. “To make friends and have fun but also so we have a stronger voice for social justice – against hate crime and unequal access to healthcare. We’ve been going since the start of the year, meeting up monthly. We’d love it if more people would come along for a a chat or to help with events. And we’d love to hear ideas about the future of the group.”
Like most London boroughs, Merton had its own LGBT+ forum, launched by the local Healthwatch in 2013 following feedback from focus groups in the community. Due to the pandemic, membership of the forum dwindled, but early in 2023 MertonPlus was reinvigorated ready for the new year.
We’d love it if more people would come along for a a chat or to help with events.
Pushed forward by a group of passionate people living and working in Merton, the aim is a mix of friendship, campaigning and practical support – signposting people to organisations to help them feel safe and access health and other services.
The group wants to talk about the health inequalities that affect some LGBT+ groups – that national research shows more than half of trans people avoid visiting their GP with health issues, for example. There are also plans to work with the police to help address hate crime and with local employers to offer support for more inclusive and friendly workplaces.
Bring your friends, bring your family, bring some food, bring your dog and hopefully we’ll have some really nice weather.”
Since January, the group has held monthly meet-ups at Wimbledon café Cuppa Chaii as well as organising special events. It’s most ambitious one yet, coming up on 9 July, is a post-Pride picnic in Morden Hall Park, organised with Sutton LGBTQ+ Forum and Queer Wandsworth, and bringing together people from all three boroughs in a big celebration following the London event.
Says Erin. “If you’d like to join us in the park, bring your friends, bring your family, bring some food, bring your dog and hopefully we’ll have some really nice weather.”
The picnic takes place from 12 noon to 3pm on Sunday 9 July 2023. Meet in the Stableyard Café Merton Hall Park.
Find out more about the group on the MertonPlus website.