Star Support is a new London-based LGBTIQ+ domestic abuse refuge and community support service, working in partnership with The Outside Project. We are here to support London's queer community by providing safe accommodation, community-centered support and advice.
Star Support is a by-and-for service. This means that our services are founded by LGBTIQ+ people with lived experience of domestic violence and homelessness. They are delivered by LGBTIQ+ people, for LGBTIQ+ people
Scroll down to learn more about our story and the inspiration behind our name...
Star Support is a new organisation based on 'Star Refuge', an emergency response project run by The Outside Project during COVID-19 lockdowns. Here is a timeline that explains the creation of Star Refuge and the process of developing this project into our new organisation, Star Support.
STAR REFUGE: A COVID EMERGENCY RESPONSE BY THE OUTSIDE PROJECT
March 2020 : COVID Lockdown 1
During the first covid lockdown, there was a spike in domestic abuse cases. The Outside Project saw a huge demand for their service during lockdown both in terms of domestic abuse cases and the usual homelessness intervention and crisis work the organisation does.
The Outside Project was engaging with the domestic abuse sector to see what services existing for LGBTIQ+ people could do. Unfortunately, there were no specific bed spaces for LGBTIQ+ people experiencing domestic abuse.
April 2020: 'Queer Protest At Home'
Lockdown led to increased levels of isolation for the queer community, spotlighting the need for specialist support not being addressed by the government or statutory services previously.
An online campaign was launched by Voices4 London, an LGBTIQ+ rights group based at The Outside Projects LGBTIQ+ Centre. The protest gave space for LGBTIQ+ people in isolation to share concerns as one collective voice using the hashtag #queerprotestathome.
The Outside Project joined Voices 4 London’s online protest with a new campaign - ‘MAKE SPACE FOR HOMELESS QUEERS’ raising the voices of LGBTIQ+ people who were homeless or fleeing domestic abuse during the pandemic with nowhere to go due to the lack of LGBTIQ+ specific services. 100’s of people joined the campaign by making their own placards.
Within weeks The Outside Project were offered 5 24 hour supported hotel rooms within a GLA
@yarnachist joining the #queerprotestathome with our campaign message
COVID service. By June 2020 The Outside Project had secured funding to open STAR Refuge, 4 beds specifically for LGBTIQ+ people fleeing domestic abuse with its own dedicated support team. This was initially funded for 3-6 months through MOPAC’s wider VAWG sector emergency response.
Within the first 3 months, we received over 100 acceptable referrals for those 4 bed spaces. The Outside Project recognised that this service was too important to lose and as a result began seeking funding to secure this as a ‘COVID legacy’ project. STAR Refuge stayed open throughout the pandemic until September 2021.
2021: Development Phase
The Outside Project received funding from the London Community Foundation and City Bridge Foundation which allowed us to explore the development of STAR Refuge into a permanent service. During this development phase, it became clear that this work would be best placed as an independent, specialist service with its own dedicated space. This led to the creation of Star Support (legally known as Star Support LGBTIQ+ CIC), a new organisation working in partnership with The Outside Project.
June 2021: STAR Lounge reopens at The Outside Project LGBTIQ+ Centre
During the initial 6 month pilot the staff team of STAR Refuge redecorated a disused room in the LGBTIQ+ Centre to open a relaxing lounge space for survivors to meet, meditate and share resources. Despite restrictions, the refuge lounge hosted friends from Open Barbers.
When The Outside Projects LGBTIQ+ Centre reopened in a new venue in June 2021, this space was recreated as a weekly drop-in for survivors - STAR Lounge - with Open Barbers still attending on a monthly basis.
STAR SUPPORT: THE START OF A NEW BY-AND-FOR SERVICE FOR LGBTIQ+ SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
2022: Star Support becomes legally independent from the Outside Project
A board of directors is appointed, drawing together a range of different skills and expertise to enable the growth of the project.
Star Support LGBTIQ+ CIC became legally independent from the Outside Project.
During 2022 Star Support searched for delivery partners to deliver this legacy project.
2023: Star Support Recieves funding from the Mayor's Office
Star Support receives funding from the Mayor's Office for the UK's first dedicated accommodation service for LGBTIQ+ survivors of domestic abuse.
TRANSforming Futures funds Star Support to look into the needs and experiences of trans survivors, working with domestic abuse and homelessness services to help them improve their services.
Star Support takes its name from North America's first LGBT shelter, S.T.A.R House.
S.T.A.R House was set up by pioneering trans activists in the 1970s in New York City. In the wake of the Stonewall Riots and a later sit-in at Weinstein Hall, Sylvia Rivera and a group of activists, including Marsha P. Johnson, founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R). The creation of S.T.A.R represented a cornerstone in the trans-led battle for LGBT rights, with activists pushing back against resistance to include trans voices and issues within the fight for gay liberation.
With many trans people facing life on the streets, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries opened North America’s first shelter and safe space for LGBT homeless and trans youth, S.T.A.R House. Initially set up in a trailer truck parked in a New York City parking lot, the shelter provided a basic but essential safe space for homeless queers. When the trailer was towed without warning, the shelter was relocated to a building on East Second Street. Despite the building having no electricity or plumbing, Syliva Rivera and Marsha. P Johnson provided their occupants with food, shelter and support, tirelessly working the streets so they could keep LGBT homeless and trans youth off them. However, despite their efforts, they were evicted after eight months, having not made the rent. Unable to find a new building, the house was disbanded.
Although short-lived, S.T.A.R House was a groundbreaking service, being the first LGBT youth shelter and the first trans woman of colour-led organisation in the United States. Both the legacy of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and the need for spaces like S.T.A.R House remain clear today.
As the UK's first by-and-for LGBTIQ+ domestic violence refuge, Star Support aims to grow from the legacy of S.T.A.R House, creating a space of safety and community for London's queers.