Young people in Southwark who are struggling with their sexuality or facing discrimination because of it are being offered a raft of new support services as Southwark Council teams up with a leading equality and diversity charity.
The council's youth service has commissioned METRO, the largest provider of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people in London, to provide new counselling services across the borough.
METRO Youth Southwark is set to launch in April and will include a new weekly youth group, one-to-one support and counselling for young people. The charity will work with Southwark Council and other organisations in the borough to offer more targeted and specific support.
The youth group will also invite young people to have their say on the types of activities that should be run to support young people's mental, emotional, sexual and physical health and wellbeing.
Dr Greg Ussher, METRO Acting CEO said:
"We are delighted to be working with Southwark Council to provide what we know is a much needed targeted service for LGBTQ young people. We have been working with LGBTQ young people for almost 30 years now and understand the impact of discrimination, bullying and abuse on their health and wellbeing and the importance of dedicated services to support them.
"Our Youth Chances survey of over 7,000 young people shows the high levels of mental illness and other needs for this group of young people with over half of LGBTQ respondents reporting mental health problems. Young people in the survey told us that what they want most is someone to talk to and an opportunity to meet with other young people like them. This is a really significant development in Southwark and demonstrates the council's commitment to supporting young people."
Councillor Dora Dixon Fyle, cabinet member for children's services said:
No one should be facing bullying, abuse or discrimination because of who they are and I am very proud to be working with METRO to ensure all our LGBTQ young people know that and have the right level of support if they find themselves struggling.
1. METRO is a leading equality and diversity charity, providing health, community and youth services across London and the South East, and national and international projects. METRO promotes health, wellbeing and equality through youth services, mental health service and sexual health and HIV services and supports over 16,000 per year on over 45,000 occasions. METRO works with anyone experiencing issues related to gender, sexuality, diversity or identity. www.metrocentreonline.org
2. Youth Chances is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is led by METRO in partnership with the University of Greenwich and Ergo Consulting. It is a five year social research project working directly with individuals, providers and commissioners to influence service provision and policy for 16 to 25 year old LGBTQ youth. www.youthchances.org
3. It is estimated that there are approximately 6.7 million 16 to 25 year olds in England. Information about sexual orientation and gender identity is not routinely collected.
Joe - Mentoring
The programme had such an impact on my life that I decided to come on board as a volunteer mentor!
Abimbola- First Point
It has been a long time since I felt that someone actually listened to me.
Sarah - Counselling
The help and understanding I experienced from everyone I came into contact with whilst using the Metroís services was amazing.
Ebere - First Point
I wish this service was around when I was newly diagnosed. I felt my world had fallen apart around me and I didn't know which way to turn for support. You are offering a very valuable service.
Peter- First Point
I felt so relieved to have a named First Point worker who I can call if I need to be referred to a particular service.
David - Counselling
Outstanding people. Outstanding service. Outstanding counselling. Truly something that has allowed me to turn my life around.
Kwasi - Mentoring
During the 6 month programme, I developed a close relationship with my mentor. Knowing that I would have to talk to him honestly about what I did in the previous 2 weeks somehow forced me to be safe every time I had an encounter.
Joan - First Point
Thank you so much for taking time to listen to me and truly understand how I am feeling. This is the only appointment I've had regarding HIV that didnít feel rushed.
Simon - Mentoring
By discussing things at such an intimate level with my mentor, I really came face to face with some of the reasons why I was taking chances before.
Michael - Counselling
I gained a huge amount of help from the counselling service and would like to thank the service for offering so much support.