History of Comic Relief and Pride

For over 30 years we’ve supported the LGBTQ+ community through funding projects that have challenged stigmas, fought for equal rights, supported those who are struggling with their identity and who have been marginalised and discriminated against. This Pride, we’re celebrating by taking a look back at some of them, alongside key milestones in LGBTQ+ equality.

Project Spotlight: Tonic Housing

Content warning: homophobia, violence, hate speech.

Just one of the projects we’re proud to help fund is Tonic Housing, the UK’s first provider of LGBTQ+ affirmative retirement housing, located in Vauxhall, London. We've been supporting Tonic Housing for over 8 years now, because it’s vital that everyone should have a safe place to call home, and the freedom to be their true self.

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Tonic@Bankhouse is the UK’s first LGBTQ+ affirming retirement community. This is a safe living space that allows people from the LGBTQ+ community to live out their later years in comfort, community and safety. Comic Relief’s funding and support has allowed Tonic to hire a CEO and expand their team to build a truly unique community asset.

During 2023’s Red Nose Day campaign, BBC Morning Live and Strictly’s Johannes Radabe visited Tonic Housing to meet some of the residents and find out how your support has transformed their lives.

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Johannes spoke with Raga and Nicola, a couple who live at Tonic Housing, to learn about how this community living space gives them the freedom to be their true selves. In a touching interview with Johannes, Raga openly shared her experiences of discrimination:

“All I could hear was somebody walking into the room. I was about to scream, thinking there was a burglar in the room. I was so scared, and it happened so quickly. I opened my eyes and all I could see was a shiny thing, which I very quickly picked up was a blade. I heard my mother’s voice and her screaming at me. She basically said that I was causing shame to the family, I had brought dishonour to the family, that I had humiliated her. And she felt I was better dead than alive, and that the children would be free of someone like me.”

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A place like this is so important for so many members of the LGBTQ+ community who are facing harassment and abuse, or who are seeking community amid a feeling of loneliness. Raga summarised by saying,

“This is a really special place, and I’m so grateful for Tonic to provide something for us where, really, we can just be.” 

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Johannes also spoke to David, who spoke about the value of living around those who are similar to you and who accept you for who you are:

“The last three years have been really isolating I think for a lot of people. And you really miss your family; not necessarily your family of birth, but the LGBT family. I mean, where I’m living at the moment is quite isolated, and not particularly LGBT-friendly. So it’s really put a spotlight on it for me. You know, just wanting to be around my own tribe, and just having that sense of connection with people. And you start to think about: what do I want when I’m older? I wanna be around people that I connect with.”


After visiting the residence and speaking with a few members of the community, Johannes commented that, 

“This is really a vibrant, inclusive place. Everyone deserves to enjoy living out their later years in comfort, community and safety. But most importantly, with the freedom to be their true selves.”

Your donations to Comic Relief contribute to the safety and support that places like Tonic@Bankhouse are offering to those who need it most. 

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