Belong To, Ireland’s national organisation supporting LGBTQ+ youth, has shared its recent successes in its 2021 annual report.
Since opening its doors to young LGBTQ+ people in 2003, it has become the leading national LGBTQ+ youth organisation in Ireland. After years of making an impact on the queer community and helping countless young people through all kinds of youth groups and services, the organisation proudly shares its findings from the work done throughout 2021.
The report reflects on how, with the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, Belong To was able to facilitate more events and youth groups and significantly better the lives of many young LGBTQ+ people who struggled greatly during the lockdowns. CEO of Belong To, Moninne Griffith, comments on this, stating: “Covid-19 continued to hold a firm grip on the world in 2021. Yet, despite the challenges we faced because of the pandemic, 2021 was a year of growth for Belong To.” She continues to express how because Belong To grew during an unpredictable time in the world, it shows the organisation’s “resilience and agility.”
We're proud to share our 2021 Annual Report highlighting the impact of our work supporting LGBTQ+ youth.
As you will read in this Report, we're here for LGBTQ+ young people through our frontline services & provide spaces for them to be who they are.
➡️ https://t.co/2gli713ch7 pic.twitter.com/yoBwyXS2FQ
— Belong To (@Belong_To) October 19, 2022
Throughout the report, important figures are highlighted, demonstrating the work the charity has achieved in 2021, as well as what they seek to achieve in the coming years. Some of the impressive statistics they shared in their 2021 report include:
- Engaging 27 volunteers to support Belong To’s work, offering 810 volunteering opportunities
- Reaching over 2,100,000 individuals through the Better Out Than In campaign
- Receiving Charity Board of the Year at the Charity Excellence Awards for the second year in a row
- Supporting 956 young people, family members, and professionals through the Dublin Youth Service
- Offering individual support to 520 young people through phone, text, email, and face-to-face support
- Running 133 youth groups through the Dublin youth service
- Reaching 75% of post-primary schools through the Stand Up Awareness Week campaign
Along with this information, Belong To shares how it amplified youth voices through its #NewVoices project. Belong To partnered with GCN to make this project come to life, and you can find the articles published on gcn.ie. Two of the articles mentioned in the report are On Coming Out by Jodi Flynn and Being Gay in Rural Ireland by Joseph Burke.
Belong To also shared information about its young peer educators, explaining how they are trained to “greet new young people who join the service and facilitate workshops at youth groups.” One of the current peer educators, Lara Fitzsimons, said that “Peer educator meetings have made me a more confident person and allowed me to come out of my shell and trust my own decisions and opinions. Being a peer educator has allowed me to be independent and also learn how to believe in myself more.” If being a peer educator sounds like something that interests you, Belong To is currently looking for volunteers for the role. More information about volunteering as a peer educator can be found here.
Belong To also discussed how it has been empowering LGBTQ+ youth through various support and frontline services, all of which are highlighted in the 2021 report. With their research showing that “6–10% of any group of young people may identify as LGBTQ+,” The LGBTQ+ youth organisation emphasises the importance of having these services, including Drugs and Alcohol services, where young people can have a safe space to share their concerns about substance abuse and how to reduce harm around it. There is also a crisis counselling service with Pieta House, offering free counselling to all young LGBTQ+ identifying people that struggle with self-harm, suicide, or who have been bereaved by suicide.
In order to examine how the mental health of LGBTQ+ people in Ireland has changed over time, Belong To in partnership with Trinity College Dublin is currently seeking survey participants to offer their views. The project serves as the first national study on LGBTQ+ mental health since the marriage referendum in 2015, and also aims to investigate public attitudes towards the queer community, exploring what impact the landmark vote has had on societal change.
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