I AM very fortunate to be a youth worker, which means often when I’m working, I also get to play! Working with young people aged 13-25 helps keep me young.
This is the rainbow umbrella I use to lead my LGBT youth group in the Liverpool Pride march each year. It is a highlight of the year – although a lot of work goes into making it happen, the day of the Pride march and festival is tremendous fun.
It is a safe space, promoting visibility and equality for LGBT people, and affirming young people in particular who can often feel isolated because of their difference.
This year the umbrella was invaluable as the heavens opened and drenched us all as we walked through the city centre!
The umbrella also represents other aspects of LGBT youth work – the spectrum of colours is a symbol of the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the shelter it provides reflects the aim of the youth group, to provide a safe, supportive social space to enable LGBT young people to build their confidence and be themselves.
Earlier this month, BBC Radio Merseyside broadcast an interview with a local film-maker who works for the Ariel Trust, an education charity which develops media skills with disadvantaged young people to improve their life chances. He has worked with my youth group throughout this year to produce several short films to help promote the group and raise awareness of issues which concern LGBT young people. As part of the radio feature, I spoke about the group and two young people spoke about what it means to them.
It’s hard enough being a teenager but having to deal with the inevitable discrimination because of sexual orientation just makes it that much harder.