The Kilkenny-based Project DAVID plans to tackle social issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community by developing peer-led mental health support groups, access to information, and exciting conversations.
Project DAVID (Diversity Awareness Visibility Inclusion Development) was established to address a lack of visibility around the LGBTQ+ community in rural Ireland. While the focal point will be the Kilkenny area, there are plans to branch out across the south-east region with mental health workshops.
The Twilight Community Group, an organisation focused on promoting inclusion, created the Kilkenny based project to not only raise awareness but also support the LGBTQ+ community in speaking out against issues which may affect them. They are taking numerous approaches towards achieving this, such as hosting intergenerational peer support groups, disseminating information through a digital hub, and launching a podcast titled Courageous Conversations.
Across the span of six months, Project DAVID aims to empower the LGBTQ+ community in rural Ireland by creating accessible support systems and intergenerational conversations. These mental health workshops and groups were developed through the Twilight Community Group’s collaboration with organisations such as Mental Health Ireland as well as Translife Kilkenny.
Speaking about this astounding new initiative, Project DAVID Team Lead, Karen Hughes, shared the following:
What does Project DAVID mean to you?
For me, it’s about creating a safer and more equitable society for LGBTQIA+ people. I was ignorant of a lot of the struggles queer people face until my friends opened up and started talking about their own experiences. It’s one thing knowing the facts but another thing when those facts are given an identity of someone you know.
I hope with Project DAVID we can firstly raise awareness of the LGBTQIA+ communities respective issues and then be able to tackle those issues in a meaningful way, primarily through our workshops, peer support groups, and interviews.
What impact will this project have on the LGBTQ+ community in Kilkenny?
What I’ve learned from talking to people from the LGBTQ+ community in Kilkenny is that there’s zero visibility and even less awareness of the challenges faced by the community. I think it’s very telling how difficult it was to create a team and reach out to publicly out people from Kilkenny. Ultimately, I want this project to break the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community and make Kilkenny a safe place for people to be themselves without the fear of being ostracised.
This project is going to put the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community into the public sphere and create an awareness of them, not only will it create an awareness but it is going to offer support to people in the community.
In what way has the collaboration with different community organisations shaped this project?
Becky Harold, the founder of Translife Kilkenny, is involved in our project and has been vital to our understanding of the issues faced by the Trans community. She highlighted some key areas that need to be addressed, for example, the complete and utter lack of mental health services as well as counsellors who have experience with Trans people. This has forced Trans people to travel further afield to the likes of Dublin to receive care from a qualified counsellor.
The intergenerational peer support group is also something that will allow people to be able to find support among people who’ve faced similar problems.
What are your hopes for Project DAVID?
My hope after the six months is that the Kilkenny community will be more aware, more accepting and be proactively inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. Long term, I hope that this project will not only highlight the dire need for mental health counsellors in Kilkenny, especially for those who are Trans, as well as creating a helpline that people can call.
How can people support Project DAVID?
We are looking for people to take part in our activities. This could be through doing interviews (podcast style and video) about their experiences of being from the LGBTQ+ community, especially if they are from Kilkenny themselves. We also need people to be a part of our peer support groups. Additionally, we have a roadshow where we will create workshops based on the issues the LGBTQ+ community want to speak about creating a safe space for people who might not know much about the community but want to be more aware.
Alternatively, we also need people to write articles (which can be anonymous) about their personal experiences as well as opinions.
You can also follow @twilightcommunitygroup on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @twilightcommun3 to keep updated on what they are doing next.
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