Club F.O.D is a registered charity in England and Wales (No. 1191158) that was established to prevent and reduce social isolation for LGBT+ people - one of the only LGBT+ charities in the UK to do so.
We provide regular and accessible dedicated safe spaces for the LGBT+ Community. Originally established in Berkshire, we have expanded our services to:
- Torfaen (South Wales)
Across the UK, many towns and cities do not have dedicated services, bars or clubs for the LGBT+ community to meet and socialise and unlike geographical isolation, social isolation experienced by LGBT+ members of society is less obvious and in many cases, is very often more challenging to escape. Sometimes isolation – and the loneliness it can lead to – can be the result of a sense of being separated from others due to society telling LGBT+ people that they are different.
Led by a small team of dedicated volunteers, we have developed distinct areas that further our charitable purpose:
- Club F.O.D '@' (Physical events/activities taking place at partner venues including a dedicated LGBT+ night in Reading and in Banbury with further events planned in other areas)
- Club F.O.D 'at Pride' (Preventing social isolation at regional pride events)
- Club F.O.D 'in the Community' (Events/activities taking place in non-licensed partner venues and outdoors including picnics and camping weekends)
- Club F.O.D 'at Home' (TV and Radio Streaming)
- Club F.O.D 'Befriending Service' (In Development)
- Club F.O.D 'Youth Club' (In Development)
- Club F.O.D 'Community Hub' (In Development)
- Club F.O.D presents 'Torfaen Pride' (In Development)
- Club F.O.D’s 'Fund of Diversity' (Fundraising for local LGBT+ projects and causes)
As we continue to expand, we're always looking for dedicated volunteers for our projects so if you would like to get involved, visit the volunteer page!
Club F.O.D '@'
The concept behind Club F.O.D '@' is simple. Once upon a time, the late Sel Jones used to romanticise that when he retired he would open a bar called Dorothy’s – a bar reminiscent of the traditional gay bar where all people were welcome whether they were wearing Jeans, full drag, leather or a crop top, greeted at the door on arrival and where every and any aspect of the gay scene would share a great night out together. So Club F.O.D – which incidentally stands for Friends of Dorothy – not only aims to reclaim a sense of the LGBT+ community in places where no dedicated venues exist, but is also a tribute to Sel in every possible way.
On arrival to a Club F.O.D Night, every individual that attends is greeted by a Door Host that introduces themselves and welcomes people to the event. They provide a brief explanation of the event and a reminder that it is a dedicated LGBT+ night. These are very often Drag Queens that have donated their time. Floor Hosts (also known as the FOD Squad) mingle and make sure that everyone attending is spoken to and when possible connecting anyone who is on their own to others who are also attending. They solicit feedback, promote future events and distribute contact cards and leaflets as well as shaking collection buckets.
Like many venues or events, we have a DJ who makes announcements and controls the visuals that attendees see on the TV screens. This includes information about LGBT+ services as well as details of any future events and activities. A game (usually hosted by a drag queen) also take place during the evening.
Club F.O.D 'at Pride'
Club F.O.D 'at Pride' mirrors what we do in venues and replicates it at Pride Events so that no-one feels 'left behind'.
As restrictions were lifted after the COVID pandemic, Club F.O.D was invited to run the PrideXtra tent at Reading Pride 2021 where we were able to trial a concept that explored how the Club F.O.D principles could and would translate to an outdoor event. The charity was able to successfully demonstrate that their approach supports the prevents of social isolation at Pride Festivals and in 2022, we proudly launched ‘Club F.O.D at Pride’: the first ever area at a UK Pride Festival that focussed on preventing social isolation.
For the LGBT+ community, Pride is a celebration of identity, diversity, and inclusion. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, for some people pride can be a lonely experience: for example, there are many that for whatever reasons have to attend alone, there are those with mobility issues and there are those who are challenged by crowded spaces. In some instances, people choose not to attend a pride event because of this.
For a significant number of the LGBT+ community, an individual’s first pride literally can change their life: it’s empowering and exhilarating to discover that there are people just like you.
Club F.O.D 'in the Community'
Currently being developed, our intention is to organise a range of social activities and events away from the pub scene including events and activities for younger members of our community as well as services to support older LGBT+ people in our community as well. Our first initiative was a Camping Trip for LGBT+ people where we stayed in Wiltshire for a long weekend. This event and the dedicated Facebook group established for it has proved popular. An annual Pink Picnic was also been previously organised.
Club F.O.D has created a number of specialised groups for the community which includes a Book Club and a Gardening Group.
Club F.O.D 'at Home'
When we entered the first lockdown of the COVID pandemic, we did not want a lockdown to leave people locked out. So, we looked for alternative ways to ensure that Club F.O.D could continue with what we set out to achieve. We started producing live streams from our Facebook page and other social media to ensure that when “…even at home, you’re never alone…”
As the first lockdown started to ease, our intention was to discontinue with virtual events but following feedback and messages received after our last virtual show, we realised that online events and broadcasts can literally be a lifeline to some members of our community and we wanted to ensure that our community reach goes beyond that of a physical venue and make sure that not one person is overlooked. That led us to developing F.O.D TV and Radio F.O.D with the help of the National Lotteries Community Fund. Club F.O.D at Home includes:
- Dedicated channels for all members of the LGBT+ community that provides live and pre-recorded interactive content
- An online Radio Station dedicated to the LGBT+ community
- Workshops and activities that support members of the LGBT+ community to create content
- Partnerships with other LGBT+ content providers
Check our pages about F.O.D TV and Radio F.O.D!
Club F.O.D 'Befriending Service'
Whilst Club F.O.D was originally established to prevent Social Isolation within the LGBT+ community, we realised that there was a need for a service that aimed to reduce Social Isolation where it already exists. This has led to us developing a dedicated Befriending Service for LGBT+ people. We will offer two types of service:
- Tea-friending - A weekly or fortnightly visit from a Befriender
- E-friending – A weekly or fortnightly phone call from a Befriender
The service is designed for:
- Those who are LGBT+ who are over 50 and are isolated and have Limited Social Connections
- Those who are LGBT+ and housebound (no age restrictions) and have Limited Social Connections
Club F.O.D 'Youth Club'
When the late Selwyn Jones passed away, a memorial fund was established by his husband, Jamie Wake, who asked Reading Pride to be the custodians of the fund. They continued to do this and in October 2020, Reading Pride’s trustees contacted Club F.O.D to have the funding transferred.
It has been decided to use this Memorial Fund to establish a Club F.O.D Youth Club for those 18 years old and under to prevent social isolation for younger LGBT+ people.
We will be able to provide more details in due course.
Club F.O.D 'Community Hub'
The lack of services available in some areas has led us to develop a concept that will establish dedicated LGBT+ community hubs in areas where no services exist. We are currently exploring this in the South Wales Valleys.
This dedicated Community Hub for the LGBT+ community will consist of:
- A Café (drinks and non-hot food) run by volunteers that will enable to development of new skills as well as help bring additional revenue into the project
- Lounge Space to encourage social interaction and provide an opportunity for local LGBT+ artists to exhibit their work
- Community space to hold events, activities and workshops including group therapy sessions, youth provision, groups for older LGBT+ people as well as inter-generational projects and projects to support the trans community
- Access to specific LGBT+ services such as mental health support and sexual health services
We hope that the provision of a safe space and the café element will also benefit the communities allies and bridge the gap between those who are LGBT+ and those who are not. Not only will this reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing but will also enable differing communties to increase community connections. It is often said that visibility can be a powerful tool in tacking discrimination and through the hubs presence, we believe that it can help eliminate the stigma that can often be targeted at the LGBT+ community.
The Community Hub will be managed by the LGBT+ community who will be able to choose and develop the activities that take place - although the leadership within Club F.O.D is LGBT+, we will establish a steering group from within the local LGBT+ community so that the service always reflects local needs. This means that this service will truly be run by the LGBT+ community for the LGBT+ community.
Club F.O.D will engage with local statutory services to develop links with mental health, sexual health and other support services. Historically we have signposed to services but the development of the Community Hub will enable us to also provide a 'halfway house' between those services and the LGBT+ community.
Club F.O.D presents 'Torfaen Pride'
In its infancy, Torfaen Pride is currently being planned and we will share further information as this develops.
Club F.O.D's 'Fund of Diversity'
On 1st July 2020, we launched The Fund Of Diversity. A rolling fund which we can use to fund projects within the LGBT+ Community. Whereas funds were distributed previously every quarter, our aim is that funds raised will be distributed monthly and members of the LGBT+ community will help us decide where those funds should go.