LGBT+ History Month is an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. This awareness month champions role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBT+ community.
Research tells us that LGBT+ communities face a multitude of challenges, especially for young people who identify as LGBT+ as they deal with not being able to express themselves, fear of not being accepted and mental health challenges to name a few.
The University of Cambridge research for Stonewall in The School Report (2017) found that:
- Nearly half of LGBT+ young people (45%) – including 64% of transgender young people – are bullied at school or college for being LGBT+.
- LGBT+ children and young people experience particularly high rates of poor mental health. Three in five of these young people have deliberately harmed themselves at some point. For transgender young people, this figure is 84%.
At the Community Foundation for Surrey, we are pleased to fund local organisations and charities across the county, that are supporting and championing LGBT+ communities.
The Eikon Charity provides long-term support to some of Surrey’s most vulnerable young people. They work with young people directly in schools and communities, one-to-one, in groups and clubs – enabling them to deliver services that improve young people’s physical and emotional wellbeing and mental health.
We are proud to have awarded the children’s charity £10,000 for their LGBT+ support services – helping local young people both online and face-to-face, offering advice, peer assistance and signposting. Their “iAmMe” groups provide a confidential place for young people (aged 12-18) to be themselves and have fun in a supportive environment, as well as through online services, such as group pages that offer support, advice and guidance for their service users and their families.
The aim of the session is to promote inclusion and provide a safe space where young people can talk and offer topical discussions and information about the needs of the LGBT+ community. The session enable young people referred to their service through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs) to explore their identity, build confidence and resilience and gives them a sense of self-worth and belonging, thereby having a positive impact on their wellbeing and mental health.
In doing so, the group also aims to raise awareness in the community and reduce prejudice and discrimination by empowering the young people to make positive changes in their school and community, as well as encouraging their peers to do the same.
“Having this space helped me to own myself and develop confidence in myself. I feel much more confident about my sexuality. By learning to acknowledge myself, I am confident in sharing that with people and being who I was born to be.”
LGBT+ young person – The Eikon Charity
“Working with EIKON’s “iAmMe” group is hugely rewarding. Seeing young people beam with excitement whilst expressing and exploring their identities in a safe space is a joy. It is such a privilege to be a part of this group, that is making such a huge difference to the lives of young people across Surrey.”
Volunteer – The Eikon Charity
Having supportive safe spaces are vital for young people from any community or background. As we know, when Coronavirus made its way into our health and our homes, restrictions also limited the social interaction we were allowed to undertake.
This was a particularly difficult time for many, especially voluntary and community groups who had to pause vital face to face support services.
Outline, based in Woking, provides confidential support to people with their sexuality and gender identity, including but not limited to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans community of surrey, primarily through a helpline, website and support groups. However, like many charities where their model is physically focused, amidst the pandemic, they were forced to reassess how they could continue to offer their services to reach local young people requiring assistance, many of whom were now isolating.
The Community Foundation was pleased to award Outline a grant for IT equipment and essential running costs.
“Through the Community Foundation for Surrey COVID-19 grant, Outline was able to mobilise a remote working option for our Helpline Services, which ensured we could keep going with our support as normal. The funding enabled the purchase of IT hardware and costs associated with keeping the charity running whilst also developing the technology platforms we had available.”
Darren Garland-Bonner – Outline
This funding not only enabled the charity to recover from the immediate shut down effects of face-to-face services, but also helped them to build a more sustainable model better able to handle physical location challenges they, like many other charities, were then experiencing.
Outline offer a confidential LGBT+ telephone helpline, that is open Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, run by volunteers, and offers advice and guidance on all areas surrounding sexual orientation including sexual health, inter-personal relationships, equal opportunities and discrimination.
People contact Outline for a number of reasons ranging from worries about coming out to friends and family, to advice on how to meet like-minded people in the LGBT+ community. The charity provides a non-judgemental and supportive service to all callers, whether they are from the LGBT+ community themselves or are calling from the perspective of a concerned friend or relative.
Outline wants their clients to feel comfortable talking about sexuality and gender identity in any way that is most comfortable to them.
Contact Outline’s Help Service on 01483 727667
We know that accessible, specialist services embedded in the community are fundamental to ensuring that children and young people can seek the care that they need, and elevate pressures on other services that have had to cut back on youth provision or had to focus resources on the highest clinical need.
“Together, youth workers and LGBT+ young people play a major role in tackling discrimination and changing the hearts and minds of others within our society. Whether running community campaigns, training professionals and volunteers, or improving our public services, LGBT+ groups are an astonishing force for change.” – The Eikon Charity
If you are in need for funding for support addressing this theme, please visit https://www.cfsurrey.org.uk/applyforfunding/ to learn how CFS may be able to help.