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Supporting LGBTQ+ Young People Aross the UK

As part of Pride MonthChris Turner, Impact Officer in the BBC Children in Need’s Grants Team, reflects on the charity’s support for LGBTQ+ young people across the UK. 

 

BBC Children in Need is privileged to work closely with around 2,500 projects throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland making a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people. As part of this, we’re proud to support a number of projects working with children and young people who identify as LGBTQ+. BBC Children in Need are currently funding 37 projects to the value of over £2.6 million specifically focused on young people affected by issues of sexual identity and gender identity. Of the 37 projects 5 projects to the value of £400,000 are focused specifically on gender identity. These projects provide activities like group support and mentoring to help LGBTQ+ young people to develop a sense of belonging, increase their self-esteem and resilience and improve their overall mental wellbeing. 

Pride Month is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of this support and the positive impact it has on young lives. Many young people may face a range of issues as they explore or question their sexual or gender identity, including negative impacts on their emotional wellbeing and mental health, bullying, discrimination and isolation. Therefore, funding the social support of these young people is more important than ever. 

 

 

Being allowed to be yourself 

Our funding ensures that these young people have access to a safe space and support network when they need it. As young people grow up, it’s also vital for them to have a place where they feel free to be themselves. A young person from a project we fund in Manchester sums this up well: 

“I believe that the group has had a massive impact on my life, not only personally but it’s connected me with people in the same boat as me. I’ve found a place where I don’t have to hide who I am, I’m able to talk to the people around me in similar situations and I’ve also gain friendships and bonds. Something which I’ve found really significant is the group meetings and the yearly residential because as people of colour, we are able to gather round all at once, in a safe space and we learn about or history, each other and how we can tackle issues in our own lives. I think this not only make us stronger as individuals but unites us as a group.” 

 

Trusted Adults 

When young people question their gender or sexuality, it can lead to them keeping secrets from the people in the lives who care about them and there is a risk that they might look for answers elsewhere, from people who might not have their best interests at heart. That’s why funding work with organisations who understand how to keep young people safe from harm is so important. A young person from Manchester discussed the support they receive: 

“There wasn’t any services where I could talk to someone who had past experience of trans issues which I very much wanted. After an initial assessment of my circumstances in a safe and supportive environment I was given 1:1 sessions. During the sessions I was able to talk freely and express whatever emotions had been held captive and then discuss practical and achievable goals that would help me to effectively manage and improve my situation to aid my recovery. I have had support from a variety of sources in recent years, but having someone who knew about trans issues from personal experience and through working with many other young people made this 1:1 support the most valuable I have had.” 

 

Friends and family 

It’s not just LGBTQ+ young people who benefit from this support. Children and young people need to feel safe and supported, and may need help from friends and family as they begin to explore their identities and understand their feelings. This time may prove challenging and confusing, so it’s important for young people and those around them to know that they are not alone. The parent of a trans child reflects on their experience: 

“When he came out [as trans], another family ended up going to the local press. It was absolutely terrifying and I had no idea what my rights were as a parent or as an individual or what I can do about this. After that we got letters from around the world that were both hate mail and also really loving letters from people saying the work that I think you do is amazing. There is a huge amount of support out there for people, but there is a small number of people who have very hateful things to say, and unfortunately their voices are very, very loud. My son is just most amazing kid and it is an absolute privilege to be his parent, and I would not change that for the world and he would not change being trans for the world. I cannot emphasize that enough, despite the difficulties, it is an absolute honour to know him and to be his parent.” 

 

We have Pride 

At BBC Children in Need, we believe that all children and young people deserve the opportunity to thrive and be the best they can be, no matter what challenges they may be facing. We are proud to support organisations and projects supporting LGBTQ+ children and young people and Pudsey wishes them all the best this Pride month and beyond! 

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