• Rationale for the National Development Program

    When we opened our doors back in 2003 it quickly became apparent that many young people accessing the service were travelling considerable distances to avail of the various programmes and peer supports on offer.

    Our original Sunday group in Dublin recorded instances of young people travelling from the length and breadth of the country, often making 6 and 7 hour return journeys in one day, alone.
     
    Also from the beginning, we worked with young people who presented with serious mental health problems – many of this young people were living outside of Dublin. Difficulties accessing appropriate supports for LGBT young people lead us to begin and advocacy campaign to the HSE. As part of this in 2006 we wrote a submission to the National Suicide Review Group. This combined with ongoing advocacy lead to LGBT people being included as an ‘at risk’ marginalised group in Reachout – the goverments 10 year strategy on suicide prevention.
     
    This advancement led to the establishment of the National Development Project at BeLonG To, funded through the HSE’s National Office of Suicide Prevention. The establishment of the project the first opportunity in Ireland to advance LGBT youth work on national level and work began which included;
     
    • The development of specific LGBT youth services, in partnership with Youth and LGBT community organisations. 
    • Work with mainstream Youth organisations to help ensure that their services were inclusive of LGBT young people.
    • Establishing a National Network of LGBT youth groups.
    • Conduct research into the lives and needs of LGBT youth.
     
    Achievements to date:
     
    In 2007 BeLonG To developed a Starter Pack, to further assist groups in the development of LGBT youth services, and an Accreditation Scheme, which when completed would give new emerging groups the BeLonG To ‘seal of approval’. By developing the pack, the service ensured that emerging groups for LGBT youth could avail of and learn from the experience BeLonG To had amassed, with a core emphasis on professional, critical social education based services.
     
    An ‘at a glance’ summary of the pack, alongside a step-by-step accreditation scheme can be found within these pages.
     
    2008 saw the inaugural National Network Meeting of LGBT groups, held in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Offering a platform to share information and resources, the network also facilitates training for workers and volunteers in areas specific to working with LGBT youth.
     
    In the same year, BeLonG To began to provide funding to a number of LGBT youth groups as part of a three year organisational strategy.
     
    2009 also saw the publication of Supporting LGBT Lives, a research report carried out in partnership with GLEN, and with the support of NOSP. With a special emphasis placed on youth, the report highlighted the vulnerability, but also the resilience of LGBT youth, in the context of the marginalisation and prejudice they often encounter.