City Hearts: Prove you're not homophobic and endangering people
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City Hearts is a charity that focuses upon helping victims of human trafficking, offering support and accommodation to these people. Up until recently, the charity was viewed as an outstanding organisation with a stellar track record. However, this has recently been thrown into disrepute by a Channel 4 news report that highlighted various issues with the charity. These issues include the lack of training given to staff, endangering both themselves and the service users, and the homophobic remarks that were reported to have been directed at service users.
We are writing this petition on behalf of activists from LGBT+ societies across the country, appalled and disturbed by these allegations. In particular, the fact that a staff member at City Hearts told a vulnerable, homosexual woman that she had the “devil” in her and banned her from having physical contact with women in the congregation is cause for alarm. Their website states that City Hearts, as a charity, values diversity. Yet, by not denouncing this staff member’s words and actions, they fail to delineate their views from that of this staff member. This is particularly worrying considering that the founder of this charity, Jenny Gilpin, is married to David Gilpin who has made various homophobic remarks (as seen in the Channel 4 news report).
This failure to differentiate even extends to the relationship between City Hearts and Hope City Church, which is mentioned on the website for Hope City is glowing terms but which is missing from the City Hearts website. It can thus be deduced that City Hearts are, in essence, hiding their association with the church, perhaps due to the fact that David, as a senior pastor at Hope City, would put the charity under scrutiny for actions like those recorded within the news report. This lack of transparency, coupled with the allegations of homophobia within the charity put them at odd with the so-called ‘values’ which they outline plainly on their website. Similarly, it directly conflicts with values of their sponsor, The Salvation Army, who do not permit discrimination of LGBT+ on any basis. Thus, by not clarifying their position, they do a disservice to the Salvation Army also.
Furthermore, we are also extremely concerned about the reports of negligence within City Hearts, as they failed to give staff sufficient training. The Channel 4 news report highlighted a particular case in which Kat, a 20 year old with no training or professional guidance, was given the responsibility of managing a safe house. In this role she was forced to deal with extremely sensitive situations requiring thorough safeguarding training. City Hearts failed to provide this, which endangered both Kat and the service users in your care. This is a clear indication of City Heart’s shortcomings and is completely unacceptable considering the serious nature of the work done by this charity.
Therefore, having considered the various scandals we have written to City Hearts to demand the following:
o To make another public statement that clearly states they support LGBT+ rights and denounce homophobia in its many forms
o To outline the steps taken to reprimand the staff involved in the allegations and what will be done to ensure that homophobia is no longer facilitated within City Hearts
o A formal apology to staff members and service users who have been endangered by the lack of formal training they have received
We ask you to sign this petition, in solidarity with the LGBT+ community and those who have suffered as a result of City Hearts’s negligence, to illustrate the seriousness of our requests and to show City Hearts that the general public will not tolerate neglect and homophobia of any form.
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