A Caring Cause

4 June 2019 | North West England

Ben Hodge, of the Michael Causer Foundation

Community organisation helps young LGBT people in legacy to murdered son.

When the Causer family lost their son Michael in a homophobic attack, they did not want his life to be in vain. And despite their grief, they have created a remarkable legacy of love in memory of their son, who was murdered for being gay.

Young LGBT people in Liverpool now have a fantastic community organisation to help them deal with the challenges they face as they grow up.

Trainee hairdresser Michael had his whole life ahead of him but was killed in an unprovoked attack as he slept at a house party in Liverpool in July 2008. His funeral took place a week before his 19th birthday.

Twelve months on his parents, Marie and Mike, and Merseyside’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community set up The Michael Causer Foundation. Their aim, to provide education, motivation and accommodation for young LGBT people like their son.

The senseless murder of the teenager touched many people, including Steve MacFarlane.

Now working for the Foundation as their chair, he recalls: “I remember clear as day when I heard about Michael being attacked for being gay. There was a vigil to show solidarity and send a message that this form of hate crime was wrong. I went along and was deeply moved. And when I heard later they had set up the Foundation, I knew I had to get involved and help. Underneath we are all the same.”

The Foundation supports young LGBT people in Merseyside, and challenges injustice and prejudice. They work alongside housing, police, education, charity and other partners, all in Michael’s memory.

“We didn’t just want a plaque on a wall,” says Marie. “We loved Michael for being the person that he was, but we know other young LGBT people don’t always have that."

Steve speaks glowingly of Marie: “She was very vocal about supporting her son. Young LGBT people looked to her as a sort of matriarch who they could reach out to, especially those who could not tell their parents or had difficulties at home. So it was perfect that she headed the Foundation.”

In terms of housing the Foundation provides safe havens, accommodation or temporary respite for young LGBT people by working with local authorities and Liverpool City Council. “So far we have helped around 20 young people into accommodation, it is kind of reassuring that it hasn’t been more,” says Steve.

Another inspired to help the Foundation in delivering its message is Ben Hodge, 19, the youngest trustee on the board. He acts as an advocate for young people and regularly helps deliver programmes which focus on being LGBT in Merseyside and ‘meet the community’ workshops.

“I think it is important they have a young person like me on the board so I give other young people a voice. Every LGBT person has their own experience but as one I know how they are feeling. I also provide a friendly face to the young people I meet.

“I am a gay man, but also transitioning as I was born female. I talk about that and how I still feel uncomfortable. I knew from an early age that something was not right, but it was only when I got to 14 that I found out that I could be trans. I researched it and realised, oh my god, that is me.

“I came out socially at 16, started dressing differently, and obviously took on a new name. I also started taking testosterone. I feel so much happier now.”

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