Inclusion and breaking down barriers is what SPECTRUM in Waterloo Region is all about.
So when the organization, which serves, affirms and supports the well-being of LGBTQ2+ people in Waterloo Region, noticed that some people in Cambridge weren’t able to access their services, they knew they had to find a solution.
Through a collaboration between executive director Scott Williams and his team at SPECTRUM and the Idea Exchange, a Transgender Peer Support Group began at the Preston location.
“The Cambridge Transgender Peer Support Group started in the fall of 2021,” Williams said.
“We did some meetings earlier that year and people in Cambridge faced a barrier to get to us in Kitchener. We weren’t aware of any similar groups that were happening in the city or physical spaces. People told us they wanted to attend but couldn't travel to get here.”
The meetings serve as a place for people in the LGBTQ2+ community to come and chat about whatever is on their mind.
The group tends to increase attendees' social network and is a time to discuss resource options, Williams says. For example if someone had a good experience with a certain doctor or at a local store, they can share those things with others.
Now the meetings will move to the Idea Exchange location at 12 Water St. S in Galt.
The change of scenery comes as Spectrum looks to continue its accessibility in the city.
“We made the move because it’s more central and easier to access for people using transit,” Williams said.
“We wanted to make sure we were meeting the need.”
When SPECTRUM approached the Idea Exchange about moving to the Galt location to make it easier to access for a larger number of people, Jaime Griffis, director of programming and promotions jumped at the opportunity to help.
“SPECTRUM and Idea Exchange have been partnering for programs and events for a couple of years,” Griffis said.
“We were excited that SPECTRUM approached us as they were looking for a welcoming community space for their Cambridge Transgender Peer Support Group. We’re excited that this program will help foster a sense of belonging for trans and gender-diverse adults in Cambridge.”
The Idea Exchange prides itself on creating supportive, safe spaces for member of the community, Griffis said.
In fact, the first two sentences for their code of conduct for staff and the public references providing safe and positive environments.
“From our policies to our programs, to our every day customer service, we're here to serve our communities and be a welcoming space,” Griffis said.
“It’s important for Idea Exchange to support the Cambridge Transgender Peer Support Group so that we may provide a safer and inclusive space for members of the community, especially when gathering and meeting together.”
SPECTRUM has also hired two new facilitators for the group thanks to a grant obtained from the Waterloo Region Community Foundation. These facilitators will help in creating a safe space and help drive discussions.
The Transgender Peer Support Group meets biweekly on Thursday's at 6 p.m. and is available to anyone 18 years of age or older who identifies within the trans or gender diverse community.