Charity launches map of regional LGBTQ+ support for young people
Date published: 19 September 2021
Inside Out is a weekly group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people or those questioning their gender or sexuality who live or spend time in Rochdale, Heywood or Middleton
An interactive map has been created to signpost LGBTQ+ young people to local groups which are open and welcoming new members, post-pandemic.
The service is the first of its kind in the country, created by the Proud Trust following the successful launch of Proud Connections, giving LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus other non-binary sexualities and genderfluid identities) young people and the adults who support them the opportunity to talk to experienced youth workers.
Over the last year, the Proud Trust has seen a rise in demand for its services across Greater Manchester and Cheshire. With 54% of LGBT+ young people saying their mental health had suffered during the pandemic, Proud Connections was created in conversation with LGBT+ young people as a response to a steep incline in requests for digital support during the pandemic.
Proud Connections provides a space for young people to reach out and connect with an experienced LGBT+ youth worker.
In Rochdale this includes ‘Inside Out’, a weekly group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people or those questioning their gender or sexuality who live or spend time in Rochdale, Heywood or Middleton.
Inside Out is for those aged 13-19 (and up to 25 with additional needs) and currently meets online each Tuesday between 5pm and 6.30pm.
Another nearby group for borough residents include the Todmorden Identity Youth Group, which offers LGBTQ children and young people aged 12-18 a safe space to meet with peers and be part of a range of social activities, whilst the Proud Trust is providing a range of online groups which usually meet at its Sidney Street premises in Manchester, near the Manchester Metropolitan All Saints' Campus.
Ashley Hind, help services manager at the charity, said: “What we’ve really tried to do with the launch of Proud Connections is to provide a listening ear to LGBTQ+ young people and let them know that support is out there for them, providing young people with options so they can make informed choices about the support available to them.
“Equally for adults supporting LGBTQ+ young people, it’s okay not to have all the answers - our online resources hold a wealth of information. The Proud Trust’s website and Proud Connections web chat is a first port of call to learn more about LGBTQ+ identities.
“Many of our resources and services can be accessed anonymously, like our new web chat, but if individuals need more ongoing support, and want to meet face to face, there are groups where young people can meet other LGBTQ+ people for peer support.”
Young people from The Proud Trust have fed into the development of the service so far, with one Greater Manchester teen saying: “Proud Connections will be amazing for LGBTQ+ people in isolation because it’s an instant way to reach out with somebody else who gets it and won’t judge you.
“The resources on the website also help because they give young people like me the resources to empower themselves and remind themselves that they are beautiful and valid.”
Proud Connections is supported by BBC Children in Need’s Impact Programme, A Million & Me, which focuses on supporting children who are beginning to struggle with their mental health and wellbeing.
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