About this Archive
(formerly Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Centre)
In 1983 Greenwich Council supported the formation of the Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Rights Group (GLGRG), particularly influenced by Councillor Tim Barnett who was an out gay man and later Executive Director of Stonewall. Two of the GLGRG’s key objectives were developing support for the local lesbian and gay community and creating a social centre for this community. The group secured funding to employ four workers who were in post by 1985 when the Greater London Council published Changing the World, a policy document focused on eradicating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation across London.
After several temporary office bases, the Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Centre (GLGC) opened in November 1986 at a site in Bowater Road, Woolwich, encompassing offices and social spaces. It launched with services including a weekly drop-in, a newsletter, and occasional events but grew over the following years to include social groups for lesbians and gay men, as well as a phone line, resource library and, intermittently, a youth group. The Centre also established a tradition for transporting its members to take part in the annual Pride parades in central London, launching the ‘Greenwich Faerie’ boat in 1995 (Pride Boat continues to be an annual highlight for the charity).
Due to significant funding cuts in 1991 the GLGC was left unable to provide group, counselling or social services and there was also concern that the Centre was physically too remote, so planning began to redesign the service offer and move to a new location.
As part of this process, in 1992 the Centre became a limited company (GLGC Ltd) and it also rebranded to become more inclusive of bisexuals and represent the Centre’s reach beyond Greenwich. In 1994 the company name was changed to Metro Centre Ltd and the newly-named Metro Centre launched in 1995. This coincided with the pilot of MetroThrust, a Gay & Bisexual Men's HIV Prevention Project funded by the council and local health promotion agency, significantly expanding Metro’s capacity and portfolio.
The service portfolio grew through the late 1990s to include a mental health service (MetroNET), a rebranded phone line (Metroline), a more extensive youth groups’ service, and regular sexual health outreach activities. From 1994 to 1997 the Centre was also home to the Hall-Carpenter Archives books and press cuttings collection (LAGNA).
In 1997, the Metro Centre relocated to a custom-designed space for its suite of services on Greenwich High Road. A consultancy was also engaged to review the balance of its portfolio and funding for HIV services for gay men and men-who-have-sex-with-men versus wider LGBTQ+ community work, with the conclusion that the HIV-related funding should be utilised to sustain other services and the continuation of a Centre that responded to the needs of all potential service users.
This philosophy was apparent in the range of work that METRO conducted in the late 1990s/early 2000s, for example teachers’ training in LGBTQ+ issues, an expansion of its mental health programme including a suicide prevention project, METRO’s sexual health outreach team working in a range of local LGBTQ+ venues and also the start of the Pitstop STD clinic.
In 2002 the charity was restructured into three interconnected portfolios: Outreach and Community Development, Mental Health Services and Youth Services. New developments in the 2000s included work on LGBTQ+ hate crime and substance misuse, and in 2006 the Pitstop+ clinical service’s online presence.
In 2008 Metro further expanded its services and constitution to include ‘any person experiencing any issues related to gender, diversity, sexuality and identity’ and in 2015 this was formally revised to specify support for transgender people.
In the twenty-first century, METRO has also expanded its services and profile as a charity through mergers with: Harbour Trust (2010); Positive Parenting and Children (2016); Greenwich Action for Voluntary Service (2017); Greenwich Association of Disabled People (2019), with over 80 employees and more than 60 volunteers contributing to the services of its five domains of work and administration: Community; HIV; Mental Health & Wellbeing; Sexual & Reproductive Health; and Youth.
METRO’s services are underpinned by this mission statement: ‘Our vision is for a world where diversity is celebrated, difference respected and valued, and where optimum health and wellbeing for all is a collective goal.’ (Annual Report 2019).
Scope and content
Papers of METRO Charity and predecessors, including:
- Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Rights Group / Greenwich Lesbian and Gay Centre (1983–1994) Management Committee Minutes (1983–1994); Annual Reports (1985–1991); Bulletins and Newsletters (1983–1992), photographs, flyers and press cuttings.
- Metro Centre and METRO Charity (1994–present). Governance records (Management Committee and Board of Trustees, 1994–2013); finance material (Audit files 2009–2011 and annual accounts 1994–2018); staff and leadership meeting agendas and minutes (1995–2018); material relating to needs assessments (1995–2011); annual reports (1994–2018); Metro News newsletters (1994–2005); internal communications mailings (2013–2017); publicity materials including leaflets and booklets (1995–2007) and posters and banners (1997–2007); reports, photographs and ephemera relating to Pride and other events’ coverage (1995–2018); filing on community initiatives including HBT bullying and LGBT hate crime (1996–2018); Metroline (1999), and Metro GAD and Metro GAVS (2017–2019); records of HIV prevention work including minutes of MetroThrust (1994–1997) and local HIV partnerships (2001–2003), as well as later pan-London initiatives including the GMI Partnership (2007–2013), South London HIV Partnership (2007–2011), and poster / campaign material for Metro HIV work (2000s–2010s); records of mental health and wellbeing work including Metronet (1996–2003), Sad Bastards (1997), The Anchor Project (2005–2006), and booklets, flyers and posters (1997–2019); Artwork including painting by mental health worker Taz Edwards-White for use at Metro events such as World AIDS Day (2004); records of Sexual & Reproductive Health domain including the Metro Outreach Team (1995–2004) and sexual health services including Pitstop (2001–2010s); records of Youth services domain including youth groups (2006–2011); photographs (2004–2009), documentary films (2005–2010) and flyers and leaflets (2005–2019); records of public sector and voluntary sector relations including Greenwich LINk and NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group (2011–2013).
- Records of organisations that merged with Metro Charity. Positive Parenting and Children (1997–2015); Harbour Trust (1996–2011)
- Publications and print resources. Wide variety of publications collected by Metro 1987–2019, including literature on HIV and sexual health, gay and lesbian magazines, academic reports and flyers for other LGBT organisations.
56 boxes; 65 posters, 3 artworks, 3 photograph albums, 1 bingo cage and 1 flag.