28% Increase in Young LGBT People Accessing BeLonG To’s Services in 2011
Wednesday, 04 July 2012
Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, today (Wednesday 4th July) officially launched the BeLonG To 2011 Annual Review which shows a significant increase of 28% in young people accessing its services in 2011 and an overall increase of 264% since 2008. The Annual Review of BeLonG To, the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people in Ireland also shows that the age profile of young people accessing its services has dropped with youth workers now providing support to LGBT people and their families at 12-13 years of age.
Launching the Annual Review, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said, “LGBT young people in Ireland need to be safe and know that they are supported. Issues such as prejudice and homophobic bullying can put LGBT young people at risk. No young person should be made suffer because of who they are and for this reason my Department is very proud to support BeLonG To’s important work.” The Minister went on to commend BeLonG To for providing an excellent and cost-effective national youth service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people. She said “BeLonG To has made an exemplary response to a huge increase in demand for its services, by providing access to 264% more young people than in 2008. I am especially pleased to see such progress, given that this Department provided the funds that made it possible for BeLonG To to be established in spring 2003, nearly 10 years ago.”
Speaking today at the launch, Executive Director of BeLonG To, Michael Barron, said, “2011 was an extraordinary year for us and our work to make Ireland a safe and equal place for LGBT young people. It was a year when we had the opportunity to place our work in a global context and a year when, closer to home, we had huge growth in the numbers of LGBT young people being supported by BeLonG To across Ireland.”
Annual Review highlights include:
- BeLonG To’s National Network of LGBT youth groups grew from eight groups to 14, the largest since BeLonG To’s inception in 2003, with new groups opening in Sligo, Mayo, Tallaght, Kilkenny, Tralee and Wexford.
- 53% of the Republic now has access to an LGBT youth group in their county, a 22% increase in nationwide coverage since 2010.
- In Dublin, 20% more young people accessed BeLonG To services between 2010 and 2011.
- Outside Dublin, 53% more young people accessed BeLonG To services between 2010 and 2011.
- 264% more young people in Ireland accessed BeLonG To services between 2008 and 2011.
- Outside Dublin, 311% more young people accessed the BeLonG To National Network between 2008 and 2011.
In 2011 BeLonG To concentrated heavily on addressing the urgent issue of homophobic bullying. The organisation’s awareness campaign, “Stand Up! Don’t Stand for Homophobic Bullying” engaged with every youth service and secondary school in Ireland, and the accompanying online advert was viewed almost 800,000 times on YouTube. The campaign also received international recognition by UNESCO and was translated into seven different languages.
BeLonG To has been a member of the Minister’s National Youth Work Advisory Committee for a number of years and Michael Barron thanked the Minister for her Department’s steadfast support over the past years. He said, “The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has been a huge support to BeLonG To since our establishment, both in terms of resourcing our direct youth service in Dublin and in working with us to ensure that the needs and rights of LGBT young people are included in national youth policy developments. Together with the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention, and the One Foundation, they have made it possible for us to support a growing number of LGBT young people across Ireland and for us to achieve great progress in our work to eliminate homophobic bullying.”
The Review found that there was a dynamic shift in online engagement by young LGBT people. Historically, online engagement had been informal once- off interactions, but in 2011 the online engagement shifted dramatically to a more regular and in-depth use of online resources and tools for support. In 2011, 51% of online visitors returned to the site more than once and spent on average 25% more time engaging with the organisation online.
In 2011, BeLonG To’s Dublin youth service, saw a significant increase in the number of LGBT young people accessing individual support from youth workers in relation to mental health issues. Youth workers facilitated over 300 one-to-one sessions, many of them focussed on mental health issues including self-harming, thoughts of suicide and attempted suicide.
2011 was a significant year for BeLonG To in terms of international recognition;
- EU: Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, signalled out BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Campaign (the only work of an NGO in Europe to be mentioned in his ‘viewpoint’ on the issue), calling it “indispensable” as a way to tackle homophobic bullying.
- UNESCO: BeLonG To was one of a small number of NGOs invited to participate in the first UN level global consultation on homophobic bullying. BeLonG To’s work and approach was highlighted as good practice at this consultation in Rio, Brazil.
- UN: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights first ever report on LGBT Human Rights notes BeLonG To’s Stand Up! Campaign as an example of a positive response to homophobia.
Established in 2003, BeLonG To is Ireland’s national youth service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) young people (aged 14-23). Its vision is for an Ireland where LGBT young people are empowered to embrace their development and growth confidently, and to participate as agents of positive social change. Its work includes delivering youth work services, awareness campaigns and training teachers, youth workers and others who work with young people. It also works with government departments, elected representatives and voluntary groups to ensure that LGBT young people are heard.
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