£80,000 grant boost for local gay and lesbian youngsters

BBC Children in Need has awarded a grant of £82,910 to Todmorden-based GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale).

The three-year grant will enable GALYIC to employ a crisis intervention and support worker to work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people under 18 who live in Calderdale.

Jan Bridget, GALYIC service manager, said: “We are delighted to receive this award from BBC Children in Need, not least because younger people are now accessing our services.

“The average age for young people coming out in Calderdale is now 14.8 years but recently we have been made aware of several 13-year-olds who have come out at school or in their communities.

“The younger ones can be particularly vulnerable due to the high levels of homophobic abuse in schools, added to which some parents are not accepting of their children and often do not know how to support them in their coming out process.”

GALYIC has pioneered a method of assessing the needs of LGBT young people, where support workers carry out in depth interviews covering all aspects of the individual’s life, including school, parents, relationships, drugs and health. Following the interview the support worker and young person agree an action plan on how to tackle any problems that have come up.

The charity used the findings of interviews with 50 members in their grant application, which showed many youngsters feel isolated before accessing GALYIC and that many experience homophobic bullying, parental rejection and often turn to substance abuse as a way of coping.

Members of the GALYIC Youth Council agreed the application to BBC Children in Need and will take part in the recruitment procedures for the new worker.

GALYIC is also running a free 10 week course aimed at helping parents and carers to accept and support their LGBT children, starting on May 11, 7 to 9pm, in central Halifax.

Jan added: “Some parents find it hard to accept that their child is gay; others might be more accepting but are worried about the discrimination their child will face, especially with the high levels of homophobic bullying in schools.

“Parents also go through a coming out process. They will have to decide who – if anybody – they are going to tell. They will be frightened they may lose prestige in the eyes of their friends, neighbours and work colleagues. They may be worried that their position in the community will be undermined.

“It takes time to sort out these fears. They will need support in going through this process while at the same time, finding out about what it means to be an LGBT young person and how they can best support their child.”

For more information on the course or to attend contact Jan Bridget, 01706 817235 or 0776 536 1590 or email jan@galyic.org.uk.

GALYIC supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people aged up to 25 to reach their full potential. It runs a youth group, drop in, one-to-one support, training and support for family and friends. For more information visit GALYIC.

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