As many are aware, starting an organisation in the midst of a pandemic is no easy feat. However, the difficult circumstances haven’t stopped Midlands LGBT+ Project from going from strength to strength as they continue to expand their work to serve more of Ireland’s rural communities.
GCN caught up with volunteer Andrew Gannon as the organisation approaches its first birthday, to learn more about the work that has been done to date, and what we can expect to see from them in 2022.
When and why was the Midlands LGBT+ Project formed?
“Midlands LGBT+ Project was established in February of this year as Laois LGBTI+ Project, but quickly expanded into Midlands LGBT+ Project due to the huge demand we were seeing from people in Kildare, Offaly, Laois and beyond. The project started as an idea from Youth Work Ireland Laois, hoping to reach some LGBT+ adults in Laois, to help them develop a community and network and give them a space to come together but what it has developed into has been that and so much more.
“It has been a challenging, exciting and incredibly rewarding year, from launching the project in the midst of a pandemic, being limited to meeting all of our members on zoom calls, getting news of our existence into all the places it needed to be and having our official launch in September, but all of it has been worth it and more to see the amazing results detailed here. I have been immensely proud to coordinate the project this year and I am so excited to see where 2022 brings us.”
What kind of work does the organisation do?
“Our main mission is to reduce isolation for Adult LGBT+ persons in The Midlands. We do this via virtual and in-person peer support groups, such as our Laois Social Group, Trans Midlands, Queen Book Club, etc. We also run LGBT+ events throughout the year, whilst also providing training to businesses and community groups, and delivering school workshops.”
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Why is it so important for rural communities to have access to these services?
“It is important for these services [to exist] due to isolation being really high in rural locations for LGBT+ people. We provide a safe community space for people who want to find other LGBT+ persons to create friendships. Before Midlands LGBT+ Project, there were no other services like us in the Midlands.”
How has the organisation grown over the last year?
“We started as a Laois LGBT+ [organisation] with one virtual support group, and over the past year, we have grown to running over six groups per month, and supporting over 100 LGBT+ adults in the Midlands.”
What exciting things can we expect from the Midlands LGBT+ Project in 2022?
“We are really excited for 2022. We now have over 20 volunteers running our services throughout the Midlands such as our Queer Book Club which launched in December 2021.
“This year we will be attending more schools for workshops and will be hosting more LGBT+ events across the Midlands. We will also be launching a lot more support and interest groups throughout the year, such as our launch of our Offaly support group starting Feb 2nd, our Over-50’s group launching February, and tons more!”
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For more information about Midlands LGBT+ Project and the work they are doing for Ireland’s rural communities, including their new Offaly support group, visit their website.
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