Belong To launches new accreditation award for LGBTQ+ inclusive youth services
Belong To have launched an innovative new LGBTQ+ accreditation programme for youth services, the Rainbow Award. Belong To’s Rainbow Award offers youth services an in-depth, action-focused programme to become fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ young people.
This new accreditation programme supports a whole organisational approach to being a safe, supportive and inclusive service for LGBTQ+ youth, staff and volunteers.
To meet the Rainbow Award criteria, youth services must meet high standards in six key areas, including capacity building, a portfolio submission and a site visit. A dedicated team member from Belong To supports each youth service along their Rainbow Award accreditation journey.
Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health, Mary Butler (she/her), met with staff and young people from youth services across Ireland who piloted the Rainbow Award programme, and presented them with their Rainbow Award at a ceremony in Dublin City Centre on May 9th. The event recognised and celebrated the efforts of six youth services in creating safe and supportive spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State, Mary Butler (she/her) said:
“I’m delighted to be able to take part in the Rainbow Award. The Rainbow Award recognises the importance of services being, and becoming places where the LGBT+ community can feel safe and supported.
The Government is fully committed to ensuring the safety and support of this community, as we know this can have a huge impact on their health and wellbeing. To do this, we need to address the discrimination and stigma that is often experienced by people in the LGBT+ community. The National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy sets out a pathway for supporting our LGBT+ community to ensure that they are visible, included, safe and free from discrimination.’’
Upon receiving the Rainbow Award, Ciara Keegan (they/them), youth worker with Finglas Youth Resource Centre said:
“The Finglas Youth Resource Centre’s engagement with the Rainbow Award this year gave us the opportunity to reflect on our current practices in how we create a safe and supportive environment for our LGBTQ+ young people. We found that it was incredibly affirming in the work we were already doing and provided us with some helpful considerations and adjustments to strengthen the inclusiveness of our service for young people and for future young people.
Our youth centre’s open and inclusive nature has been built up by a team of caring and empathetic young people, youth workers, management and board members. Our hope is that we can continue to create safe and supportive spaces for LGBTQ+ young people in Finglas, and we know that the creation of awards like the Rainbow Award will help to maintain this ethos.”
Speaking at the event, Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO, Belong To stated:
“We are proud to award these six services with the Rainbow Award! Today marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards LGBTQ inclusion as we officially launch this programme across the country. With over 20 years of experience supporting LGBTQ+ youth in Ireland, we at Belong To are here to empower local communities to develop a culture of LGBTQ+ inclusion and support young people to thrive.”
The six youth services who received the Belong To Rainbow Award were:
- Waterford & South Tipperary Community Youth Service
- Cabra for Youth
- East Wicklow Youth Service
- Finglas Youth Resource Centre
- Talk about Youth Project
- Ferns Diocesan Youth Service
Cabra For Youth: Katie Kearney; Layla Corran; Megan Gannon; Minister of State, Mary Butler; Cillian Whelan; Toni O’Rourke; Mary Carroll; Senator Mary Fitzpatrick, Chair of Cabra for Youth.
Waterford and South Tipperary Community Youth Service: Tia Weldon; Donna Bonelli; Naoise O’Brien; Max Bodza; Fina Eccleston; Jadynn Osbourn; Minister of State, Mary Butler; Sam Ryan; Debbie O’Rourke; Sarah Power; Milly Murray; Ann Seward; Alison Golding; Aoibhe Clancy
East Wicklow Youth Service, Crosscare: Moninne Griffith, CEO of Belong To; Tara Garvey; Linda Lambert; Minister of State, Mary Butler; Conor Hickey, CEO of Crosscare; Angeline Pluck; Paul Murphy; Liz O’Sullivan; Mary Millet, Wicklow Partnership; Fiona Creedon, ETB.
Ferns Diocesan Youth Service: Paula Kelly; Lili Dobs; Emma Whitty; Minister of State, Mary Butler; Darragh Moran; Chloe Murphy; Nicola Freeman; Jessie Murphy; Suzanne Roche.
Talk About Youth Project: Eric; Lisa; Jordan; Carmel; Harper; Minister of State, Mary Butler; Dean; Gemma; Nikolas; Treasure; Willow.
Applications are now open for youth services and organisation who would like to work towards the Rainbow Award in 2023. For more information, visit www.belongto.org/rainbow-award/
Notes to editors
- Belong To: Belong To is the national LGBTQ+ youth organisation. Since 2003, Belong To has worked with LGBTQ+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and thriving in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth, and offers a specialised LGBTQ+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach.
- The Rainbow Award offers youth service an in-depth, action-focused programme to become fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ young people. The programme was piloted in 2022-2023 with six youth services in Ireland. Participating services receive training, resources and specialised support in their journey towards LGBTQ+ inclusion. Visit belongto.org/rainbow-award/ to find out more.
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