A NEW project will reduce the number of young LGBTQIA+ people’s mental health reaching ‘crisis point’.
Leading LGBTQIA+ charity Pride Action North (PAN) has been successful in its bid of £168,340 from The National Lottery Community Fund to launch a project providing vital support to people aged between 11 and 25 who are LGBTQIA+ and are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
The project, entitled Supporting LGBTQIA+ Young People to Thrive In and Out of Education, has been introduced by PAN as its link workers often work with young people who have already reached ‘crisis point’ because of a lack of specialist support across the region.
As part of the funding, a new role of education coordinator at the charity will be created to work closely with schools, colleges and universities across the North to create inclusive environments that encourage acceptance, support and understanding for LGBTQIA+ communities.
It will also allow PAN representatives to collaborate with education professionals, provide training and resources, and facilitate referrals to community-based services so young people can receive the right level of support and opportunities.
The funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, will also result in the creation of a further link worker position at the charity to ensure that extra support is available to young people once they are referred to PAN.
Darren Irvine-Duffy, the chair of the charity, said: “When young people are referred to Pride Action North, sadly it is all too often that they are already at crisis point because there is a sorely missing link between community-based support and education.
“Thanks to National Lottery players who raise £30 million each week for good causes across the UK, this new project focuses on early intervention to help identify issues within young LGBTQIA+ people and make sure they have access to the best support and advocacy available to prevent their personal circumstances worsening.
“It will be key to work closer with professionals and upskill their workforce so young people are able to receive improved levels of support within education, while also ensuring increased access to other community-based services for support while out of an education setting.
“The new project will improve mental health and wellbeing, and reduce feelings of isolation and social insecurity by fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment for LGBTQIA+ children and young people so they feel happier as a result of positive intervention.”
It is estimated that more than 900 young people across the North East will benefit from this new project over the three-year lifespan of the funding.
The project will be rolled out in Northumberland in the first year before being extended into Tyne & Wear over the following two years.
On completion of the project, it is hoped that PAN will be able to continue the additional work offering a valuable support service to the region’s young people.
Angela Brudenell, PAN’s charity manager, said: “This project will have a far-reaching impact on people who don’t know where to turn for help, or feel that there is nobody out there to call on.
“Improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ communities is fundamental to everything we do at Pride Action North, and we are delighted to have been supported by National Lottery funding to carry out such vital work for the young people in our area.”
The National Lottery Community Fund awards grants to strengthen society and improve lives across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players, it will distribute at least £4 billion by 2030, supporting activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
Duncan Nicholson, Head of Funding for North East & Cumbria at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players and the hard work and dedication of Pride Action North, this project will play a pivotal role in improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people from LGBTQIA+ communities.
“The award fits with The National Lottery Community Fund’s four key missions, which are to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives.
“We’re delighted that our grants are being used to support great projects that strengthen communities and improve lives in our region.”
Pride Action North, formerly known as Northumberland Pride, was rebranded in 2023 to better capture the additional support services the charity provides across a larger geographical area.