Throughout the last year we have seen many more enquiries for our services than we usually would, reflecting how difficult the pandemic has been for people from all walks of life, and our own research has highlighted some worrying mental health statistics.
In rural areas, travel restrictions have also increased feelings of isolation, with many being unable to see and interact with people they would usually turn to for support in difficult situations.
Going forward, we recognise that young people need to be able to access our services remotely wherever possible, therefore we are piloting this service in the North West of England with a view to it being rolled out nationwide so that The Proud Trust can help even more young people.
Proud Connections is a brand-new digital support service for LGBT+ young people and the adults who support them. The one-to-one web chat is a first port of call for LGBT+ young people wanting to speak to a trained youth worker, from where they can be signposted to further services such as youth groups or mentoring projects if needed.
The web chat is also available to provide resources and information for trusted adults looking for advice on how to support an LGBT+ young person as they explore their identity. This could be anyone from a parent, carer or grandparent to teacher, youth group leader, hairdresser or employer.
The project has received funding from Our Manchester Funds, Covid Impact Fund who said:
“The Covid Impact Fund was set up to support the mental health and wellbeing of Manchester residents, with a focus on those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We’re pleased to see investment going to support LGBT+ young people in Manchester through the work of The Proud Trust and look forward to seeing the positive difference this makes.”
Young people from The Proud Trust have fed into the development of the service so far, one young person said:
“Proud Connections will be amazing for LGBT+ people in isolation because it’s an instant way to reach out with somebody else who gets it and won’t judge you. The resources on the website also help because they give young people like me the resources to empower themselves and remind themselves that they are beautiful and valid.”
The new LGBT+ help service is supported by BBC Children in Need’s Impact Programme, A Million & Me, which focuses on supporting children who are beginning to struggle with their mental health and wellbeing. Paddy Sloan, Project Director for A Million & Me, said:
“We are delighted to be supporting The Proud Trust, who share our ambition to encourage children to share their feelings and supporting family, friends, carers and trusted adults to listen. A Million & Me is all about the importance of relationships and by providing access to expert information and giving children and adults the confidence to have open conversations, we aim to increase empathy and resilience and help prevent mental health problems developing. We look forward to working with The Proud Trust as they build their digital support service, providing information and advice to those who feel isolated and excluded.”