AN activist in Barrow has expressed concern over how LGBT people are coping with mental health during the pandemic.

Lee Wicks, the chairman of the Friends & Supporters of the Furness LGBT Community, said he was worried about how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were coping having to stay at home with their families.

He made the comments as it was revealed that hate crimes against LGBT people had risen by a fifth nationally.

People in Barrow are now banned from mixing with other households socially indoors under the Tier 2 restrictions for coronavirus.

Mr Wicks said: “I’m very concerned indeed regarding LGBT people in lockdown in general regarding their mental health and it being more difficult in accessing help.

“I am particularly concerned about LGBT people isolating in a homophobic environment especially those who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity or have not come out and are wanting to.”

Statistics released by the Home Office revealed that hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation increased by the largest percentage of any group – from 13,314 incidents to 15,800.

Hate crimes against people who identify as transgender also rose by 16 per cent to 2,500.

Nearly a quarter - 23 per cent - of reported hate crime against gay people included stalking and harassment, whilst this rose to 32 per cent for transgender people.

“The rise in homophobic hate crime is cause for concern.,” Mr Wicks said.

“I have always believed education is key to breaking down myths and preconceived ideas regarding LGBTQI+ people. The Government had indeed planned in 2020 to add a more compulsory LGBT inclusive curriculum in places of education, unfortunately due to Covid19, it has been delayed.”

In Cumbria, a total 674 hate crimes of any type were recorded by officers in the year to March – up 29 per cent on 2018/19. Nationally, police recorded a record 105,090 hate crimes in the last year – an eight per cent rise on the previous year.