The LGBTQ+ Project provides Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and young people who are questioning their sexuality with a safe space where they can meet with people like themselves, to socialise and gain support from one another as well as the staff team which consists of volunteers and paid youth work staff.
The project currently has 26 members and this figure is rising on a weekly basis. We currently run two sessions each week, for young people age 14 – 18 and for those age 18 – 25 years however we have noticed that people who are younger are in need of the service and we would like to be able to extend our service so that we can help to meet their needs.
The majority of members that attend are receiving counselling from YES or support from CAHMS, through our own research we have identified that the majority of young people either suffer from depression or anxiety which has stemmed from homophobic attitudes and behaviors from people in the community, not being accepted, not being supported and quite simply by not being able to be themselves.
The Project offers the young people with plenty of new experiences and opportunities to develop as an individual, via activities within the project (such as art, drama, cooking etc.) as well as residentials and trips out.
The assistant youth worker also delivers awareness sessions in schools and recently delivered some training to the Education Welfare Officers and Youth workers across the island.
The members and staff also support other agencies to develop guidelines, strategies and policies in support of LGBTQ+ people, for example; Education, the Police and Safeguarding Partnership Board.
The aim of this project is to provide young people with a safe space where they feel comfortable and can meet with people that are in similar situations.
To enable LGBTQ+ young people to access support and advice from youth workers in relation to their identity and sexuality as well as general teenage life.
To enable LGBTQ+ young people to take part in new opportunities and experiences that will help with personal development.
To educate young people, teachers, professionals, the local community to reduce stigma and discrimination.
To make youth projects, schools, colleges and environments where young people meet or get support from LGBTQ+ friendly, for example Scouts, JET, Advance to work, youth hostels, children’s homes, police, etc.
To promote and celebrate sexuality and gender diversity and raise awareness within the local community independently and jointly with Liberate and Trans jersey.
By raising awareness and reducing stigma within schools and amongst the wider community we will help to reduce the harm that LGBTQ+ young people are causing to themselves for example: self-harm, attempted suicide – something we see regularly amongst these young people. It will also hopefully reduce the abuse, bullying and harassment that they face from members of the public.
It will also make the young people feel as though they are part of the community, rather than feeling as though they are a minority group, generally making environments safer and inclusive for all.
We have plans to develop this service further such as:
* To develop another evening session for young people to meet (age 11 – 13years)
* To develop outreach work through schools to raise awareness of the LGBT opportunities for young people.
* To develop training for professionals around LGBTQ issues facing young people in Jersey
* To target minority groups (Portuguese, Polish and Thai) young people and provide support to young people questioning their sexuality and gender identity
* To look at support opportunities for parents whose child might be or is LGBTQ+
The work we do is valuable to many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning young people living in Jersey.
Young LGBTQ people often feel isolated & alone, get bullied, have a fear of rejection and need support to help them understand that it's okay to be themselves.
Homophobia and homophobic bullying can take lots of different forms, but all of them can be upsetting and difficult to deal with and have a damaging impact on a person’s self-esteem and confidence that can lead to emotional health and wellbeing issues.
During weekly sessions many discussion take place about health relationships, bullying, issues of "coming out" as well as many more and we're seeing a real increase in demand for our services.
Single donations are also extremely important to our work and your donation will help us make a difference to LGBTQ young people's lives here in Jersey