Open Hands

Botswana | Website

Open Hands is a user-led project that supports and advocates for the mental health needs of LGBTI+ communities in Botswana.

Open Hands creates a network of care for LGBTI+ people and their families to feel safe, connected and loved through their self-love workshops, family mediation and mental health referral network.

What Others Can Learn

Not only does the prejudice that LGBTI+ people experience have a negative impact on their mental health, it can also make it harder to ask for and access help. Open Hands understands this well, so they don’t wait for people to find them. They know the best way to reach the community they serve, and they do so with sensitivity and empathy, establishing relationships of trust, and designing spaces where people are safe to open up.

Learnings from this model could be very helpful for other contexts where stigma and support for LGBTI+ communities are still poor.

Partnership With Ember

Initially an advocacy organisation for LGBTI+ rights, the mental health aspect of Open Hands’ work developed organically. Their model of support wasn’t articulated and relied entirely on volunteers working around their full-time jobs. This made it difficult for the team to have the confidence to pitch for funding.

The goal was for Open Hands to recognise and position themselves as a leader in LGBTI+ mental health support. Firstly, this meant articulating their model and values in a pitch for potential partners. Then we supported in capturing Open Hands’ impact across their activity streams and communicate it to prove their results.

The partnership not only provided Open Hands with assets they can use to get more visibility, it also increased the team’s confidence in the work that they do and enabled their ambition to expand. They decided to move from a volunteer system to having a full-time team, and to grow their reach by expanding into new areas of Botswana.

Open Hands