SUPPORTING LONDON’S TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY
ISLINGTON-BASED DRUGS WORKER WINS HOME OFFICE CHANGING LIVES AWARD 2009
Adele Adams from Islington has been nominated for a Home Office National Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives Award for her role in ‘Project Silverfish’, a scheme she founded in 2008 to support one of the most marginalised minority communities in London - the intersex, transgender and genderqueer community.
‘Project Silverfish’ is the only one of its kind in the UK and was set up in memory of Adele’s close friend, world renowned DJ Alex Silverfish, a trans woman who at the peak of her professional career in the music industry committed suicide in summer 2008 after suffering years of harassment.
Having been supported through drug rehabilitation and a difficult journey through gender transition herself, Adele wanted to help others in similar situations.
Now, with the help of her colleagues, Adele delivers street outreach to inner London, offering trans and intersex people practical guidance on drug and alcohol misuse. She also offers harm minimisation support for people who feel that they need to use ‘black market’ prescription medication to help them through a physical sex change without GP supervision.
Adele was nominated for the Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives Award by Savvas Panas, CEO of the Pilion Trust – an information and support charity based in Islington.
“There are not enough words to describe how well Adele has done, not only in completely turning around her own life, but helping the lives of others. In terms of commitment and perseverance, Adele always goes the extra mile. Adele works with people who have very complex needs, but nothing fazes her. She works day and night to help everyone she meets gain control of their life and take their rightful place in the wider community.”
Since the project began, Adele has also helped over XX people find suitable housing and gain work experience in an agency that will actively recognise and support their difficult journey through gender transition.
On hearing about her nomination, she said:
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be nominated for a Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives Award and I would like to thank the Pilion Trust for helping me to achieve my own goals as well as making ‘Project Silverfish’ possible. Because I have had a difficult past myself, I know all too well about the risks of using drugs to help forget the pain caused by prejudice from local neighbours, employers and even strangers.”
One of Adele’s main aims is to get people back into work, learn new skills and help them gain confidence. She says that this is vital in reducing the risks of them going back to a life of drugs and alcohol misuse.
“This community is hidden and marginalised and, as a result, many of them survive by working in the sex industry where illegal substances are rife. The transgender and intersex community has the highest rate of sex workers of any other community in the UK. It’s high time we took a closer look at the reasons why they are there, and help bring them back into mainstream employment, or at least make their lives safer.
“One of the ways we help to do this is by being advocates for those who do not understand how to access statutory benefits. We also offer training programmes for transgender people on ways out of the sex industry, as well as giving practical advice to those who are intersexed or transsexual. Moreover, ‘Project Silverfish’ recognises that it is no longer acceptable to put transgender and intersex people under the umbrella of gay and lesbian issues.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to convince people who have been abused all their lives, that you can be trusted, but I persevere, and I am so proud to say that since launching the project, many people who may have ended up like my friend Alex, now have a bright future - regardless of their background.”
The Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson at the Award Ceremony today, highlighted and praised Adele and her work and congratulated her for being one of the winners of the regional awards.
There were over 230 applicant this year from across the country and was one of the finalists and regional winners.
If you wish to make a donation and support the work that Adele and her volunteers deliver for Project Silverfish, please send a cheque made out to The Pilion Trust, and post it to The Chair, c/o The Pilion Trust, 8 CLarendon Buildings, 25 Horsell Road, London N5 1XL and state that your support and donation are for Project Silverfish.