Help for gay and trans people in Ashfield has been stepped up with a new support officer.
Russell Higham, a qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support counsellor has been appointed to the role at a newly opened Community Help Centre in Sutton.
The Market View centre has been funded by Lottery grants, and will be a one-stop shop for advice.
Mr Highham, who also works as a theatre support worker at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Sutton’s King’s Mill Hospital, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to offer valuable local support to the LGBT community and their families.
“In what we think is the only resource of its kind in the region, we will be providing a safe place where people who are LGBT can drop in at evenings or weekends to a place where we will listen to them and give advice, support and signposting.”
Councillor Helen Hollis, Ashfield District Council member for The Dales, who is involved in running the centre said:”We want to help people in the LGBT community who want to come out to family safely, maintain their dignity and know their rights.
“There is a demand for this service and there was nowhere in Sutton to turn to for this kind of support before we had Russell in place.”
Michael Hollis, a spokesman for the centre, said: “We are an advice centre with professionally trained staff, including a fully trained LGBT officer.
“This is much needed in our area, where no such services are currently available.
“We represent people needing welfare rights advice, consumer, debt issues, housing and benefits issues, as well as loneliness and homelessness.
“Our centre will also provide a drop-in service for drug and alcohol advice.”
The centre was initially run by volunteers, and now has three full-time staff members, as well as consultants who specialise in certain areas that will be on-call.
Nottinghamshire and England cricket Jake Ball and former England star Tim Robinson were at the official opening – and Mr Robinson, a former England player himself, said: “I can see that the area is in needs of facilities such as this.
“Hopefully this centre will benefit the people of Sutton.”
The centre is open on a drop in basis on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.