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Trans kids charity Mermaids awarded National Lottery grant following review

Sofia Lotto Persio February 19, 2019
An event hosted by the Big Lottery Fund, which has declared a review of its support for Mermaids, a charity supporting transgender children.

National Lottery event 'The People's 50 Million Lottery Giveaway' at the Mermaid Conference Centre on October 23, 2007 in London, England. (Stuart Wilson/Getty)

The National Lottery Community Fund has confirmed it will award a grant worth £500,000 to the transgender children’s charity Mermaids following a two-month review into the funding.

A 40-page document published by the public body, which is responsible for distributing funds raised by the National Lottery for charitable causes,  on Tuesday (February 19), concluded that the allegations made against Mermaids were baseless, and therefore did not justify withholding the grant.

The review, prepared by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Director for Scotland, set out to investigate a number of serious allegations made against the charity after news of the grant was first reported in The Sunday Times newspaper in December.

The newspaper article described Mermaids as a “child sex-change charity” and spurred TV writer Graham Linehan to start a thread on online forum Mumsnet urging users to contact the Fund to oppose to the grant.

The National Lottery Community Fund confirms support for Mermaids

As part of the review, Mermaids had to respond to seven allegations, including that it “favours and lobbies for a medical treatment pathway as a main route to support for children experiencing non-conforming gender identity,” and that “it promotes questionable statistics in relation to suicidality in children and young people with gender identity issues.”

Commenting on the review findings, the National Lottery Community Fund said in a statement: “This review did not find any grounds to withhold funding from Mermaids UK. The grant has therefore been approved by the England Funding Committee.”

Harry Brewis, better known as hbomberguy, who live streamed himself playing Donkey Kong for Mermaids
Harry Brewis raised more than $347,000 for charity Mermaids UK, which supports gender-diverse and trans children. (hbomberguy/YouTube)

The £500,000 grant will support Mermaids over the course of five years.

Mermaids CEO Susie Green tells PinkNews: “Mermaids are delighted with the outcome of the review, and cannot wait to get started on this much needed and vital project with the support of the National Lottery Community Fund.

“The grant is to support the development and delivery of a network of local support groups across the country, increase training resource and delivery, and provide research evidence to add to the knowledge and understanding of transgender children and young people.”

In its statement, the National Lottery Community Fund said the organisation plans to continue working with the charity to ensure they receive adequate support, as the review identified certain areas in which the charity should improve practice, governance, relationship management and quality assurance.

The review stated: “Mermaids is an organisation which is developing and maturing fast within a complex environment. As it moves to an operating approach which is a partnership between young people, their families and professionals, it is experiencing challenges and must further consider the robustness of its governance and infrastructure.”

“Given the historic lack of Funding and the estimated size of the trans community this is an important area to fund.”

The review also found that the organisation’s outspoken advocacy on transgender issues risks “overshadowing the valued front facing direct support platform they provide for children.”

The review overall recognised the importance of working with charities supporting the trans community.

It stated: “Given the historic lack of Funding and the estimated size of the trans community this is an important area to fund. The Big Lottery Fund is a funder for everyone, this community, which is also a marginalised community, is an appropriate destination for our funding.”

Mermaids thanks Big Lottery Fund and supporters

In a statement published on the charity’s website, Mermaids thanked the Fund for conducting the review in “a detailed, thorough, fair and appropriate manner.”

“For Mermaids, the review was an opportunity both to affirm the value of increasing direct support with local groups, alongside training delivery and research development, and to demonstrate to the Fund that the charity was well positioned to produce and manage these initiatives,” the statement read.

Mermaids also thanked funders, individuals and organisations that have supported the charity during the review process.

Last month, gamer Hbomberguy—whose real name is Harry Brewis—raised $300,000 for the charity by live-streaming himself playing Donkey Kong 64.

Around 600,000 people watched all or parts of the Twitch stream, which saw congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and whistleblower Chelsea Manning calling in to support trans rights and Hbomberguy’s fundraising effort.

More: big lottery fund, graham linehan, Mermaids UK, susie green, The National Lottery Community Fund

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