Meet our Member Organisation LGBT Youth Scotland!
August has arrived and it’s time for another Member of the Month story! Pack your digital suitcase and follow us to the beautiful land of lochs and legends, where we discussed with our Member Organisation LGBT Youth Scotland to learn more about their exciting activities and the crucial work they carry out for local LGBTQI young people.
Heya, can you tell us more about LGBT Youth Scotland?
LGBT Youth Scotland is the only national youth work provider in Scotland for LGBTI young people. We were founded in 1989, and were originally called the ‘Stonewall Youth Project’.
At LGBT Youth Scotland, we work to make Scotland the best place to grow up for all LGBTI young people. We achieve this by:
- Delivering live enhancing youth work services including youth groups all across the country, one to one support, and an innovative digital service.
- Amplifying young people’s voices through our youth commissions.
- Influencing policy at a local and national level, through things like our Life in Scotland research which documents how life is changing in Scotland for LGBTI young people.
- Delivering the LGBT charter programme, which works to make schools and organisations inclusive of the needs of LGBTI young people.
We have achieved huge success over the years, most notably in the individual lives of young people, who often describe our services as life saving. If you are curious about the importance of our work, check out this short video, in which a young person describes the impact we have had.
In what ways have young LGBTQI people in your community been affected by the COVID-19 emergency and the lockdowns?
Covid-19 and the emergency response to it has been a really isolating experience for all of us, but this has had a particular impact on LGBTI young people who aren’t out to those they live with, or who live with people who are hostile to their identity. Regular opportunities to socialise with supportive friends were suspended, and young people have also missed out on key experiences and milestones — like the sense of solidarity and community that comes from attending your first Pride march.
This was all compounded by the impact on young people’s access to services: waiting lists have grown for mental health support, and vital services for trans and non-binary young people have grown longer. We also see more young people in crisis than ever before.
Are there specific ways in which you have supported the community that you would like to highlight and/or share with other European organisations?
During the pandemic, we launched our Digital Youth Work platform “Pride and Pixels”, an invite-only Discord server which creates a community space for LGBTI young people all around Scotland to chat, make friends and attend a wide range of events from social opportunities to sexual health drop ins. This project has been so successful that we recently won a National Youth Work Award in the Digital category.
Although our youth groups are now back to in-person delivery, we are working to create a blended model that ensures we don’t forget about the benefits of digital approaches. We are also using digital youth work to reach out to LGBTI young people in Scotland who live in rural communities, and have recently set up a digital group for young people in the rural Highlands and Scottish Islands. Our recent Life in Scotland for LGBTI Young People research found that only 28% of rural young people think their community is a good place to live: we want to work alongside them to change that.
What can governments, (national and international) authorities and institutions do more to support the communities you serve throughout this crisis?
Governments should work towards sustainable, multi-year funding of the LGBTI sector, so that we can continue to make a difference to the lives of young people and to build a world where all young people feel safe to be their authentic selves no matter what else is going on in the world.
There are reasons to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a part of our lives in the future. In what way do you think that prolonged lockdowns and/or other preventive measures will impact your work and LGBTQI+ youth in your country?
We will continue to offer a blended approach of digital and face-to-face youth work: This means that no matter what happens we will continue to provide community spaces for young people, as well as one-to-one support where young people can grow confident in their own identities. Having access to high quality digital youth work means that we are able to plan for different scenarios. We will work as hard as we can to mitigate the impact that the pandemic will have on our young people, by ensuring they have swift access to support and that they can maintain the relationships that are important to them digitally.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! And a quick reminder that more information can be found on your website https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/.
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