A project to reduce bullying and prejudice towards young and vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has been awarded £473,123.
LGBT Youth North West received the grant from the Big Lottery Fund. It is one of two projects in the North West to receive funding via the Reaching Communities programme.
The group will reach 22,000 people aged between 13 and 25 across the region, focusing particularly on Manchester and Stockport, to reduce homophobia, biphobia and transphobia through workshops held at schools and youth clubs.
The grant means the project can continue to run youth groups, train young people to become peer supporters, and offer volunteering opportunities.
Young people will be trained to become peer supporters and offer advice through one-on-one meetings, text, email and social networks to help them deal with issues such as bullying. Peer educators will deliver workshops in schools and to teachers, social and youth workers.
Amelia Lee, LGBT Youth North West strategic director, said: "Although attitudes are generally changing for the better, prejudice still exists and when some young people come out they find themselves experiencing violence, being cut off by family or made homeless, particularly if they are from traditional families with strict religious views. When young people find our youth groups or peer support, they may be sofa surfing at friends’ homes or have nowhere to live and no support.
"Cities and towns like Manchester and Liverpool tend to have a higher proportion of LGBT young people as they seek the anonymity of urban environments where there tends to be more diversity, and therefore more people with liberal views. Through our awareness workshops in schools, we hope to reach young people in the smaller towns of Greater Manchester and beyond, who might not have had the opportunity to meet LGBT people or learn about LGBT identities.
"We hope to reduce prejudice and bullying further so that more LGBT young people can enjoy their youth, be happy in their own bodies and confident to go on to live happy, sociable and successful lives. One young person told us, ‘your help has literally saved my life, so I hope this new funding support can help more young people like me’."
Tim Davies-Pugh, Big Lottery Fund deputy director for England, said: "Homophobic bullying and other prejudices can knock young people’s confidence which can have an impact on their relationships with people, career aspirations and reaching their full potential.
"Our grant to LGBT Youth North West will promote understanding and more inclusive environments where young people can be happier and thrive."
Elsewhere, Workington Theatre Royal received a development grant of £21,585 to help it remodel its premises.
The Cumbrian arts organisation plans to create an expanded reception area as well as offices and a recording studio for music-based charity Soundwave, and all parts of the building are to be made accessible with a platform lift between floors.
The transformed rooms would be used for community meetings, arts events, computer gaming nights, charity meetings, fashion shows, coffee mornings and support groups. The recording studio would also be used to produce a ‘talking newspaper’ for visually impaired people.
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