Working with young people who identify as LGBT is an area of our work that has continued throughout all the turmoil and change over the past 18months. This is an area that is set to grow however in order to do this we need to continue to identify what their needs are and how best we can address them.
As we all know, being a young person growing up has its own challenges however this can be even more so when when you’re lesbian, gay,bisexual, trans or questioning your sexuality and/or gender identity (LGBTQ) – or at least that’s what everyone says.
The reality is, however that there’s very little robust data currently available on LGBTQ people in the UK in general, even less so on young people in particular. According to recent reports:-
- An alarming 65% of 16-25year old LGB people have experienced homophobic bullying at school in England.
- The rate of attempted suicide is twice as high among the LGB population as the national average
- In the US at least, LGB record significantly higher drug andalcohol use.
This evidence suggests that there are tangible issues here and that they have a very serious impact on all aspects of young people’s lives and outcomes. The data,however, is still missing and the response from services – therefore unclear.
So - the question a ground-breaking new study is attempting to answer by surveying 15,000 16-25 year old LGBT people across the country is how hard is it really and what are the specific challenges that make it so? Youth Chances – a social research project led by the Metro in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Ergo Consulting, and funded by the BigLottery, is inviting 16-25 year olds from across England to share their story by completing the survey – here are some of them, speaking out about Youth Chances andhow it will make a difference to their lives.
The evidence collected will help to inform and influence the work of service providers and commissioners all over England and help them identify how their policies can be improved to address the real concerns of young LGBT people today. So, if you’re working with young people, especially those who may identify as LGBTQ then please, please, encourage them to fill in the survey!
I’ve been to two events recently that continue to highlight for me the benefits of universal youth services for young people and their involvement in delivering them.
The first was the wonderful day in London at the Houses of Parliment where young people and organisations were recognised for the effort they had put into the recent youth elections. As readers of this blog will know, in March this year, 20,088 young people voted in countywide elections for the current 48 members of the West Sussex Youth Cabinet and four Youth MPs.
There are three levels of Democracy Award: Bronze (for at least 50 percent voter turnout), Silver (70 percent), and Gold (90 percent). A record-breaking number of awards were given out this year to 23 schools, colleges, special schools, a middle school and youth organisations across West Sussex. Young people from each of the organisations stood up and spoke about how they had run the elections in their area. What struck me was the extent in which they had used social media and networks to get the information out and share with their friends in their areas. Some groups had organised hustings, others voted in specifc classes. A number of innovation awards were also given for use of pictorial election ballots different ways of promoting the elections.
I’ll talk more about the next event in my next post.
The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.
This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos & bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.
Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.
A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!