LGBT+ includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid and/or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. Young people who identify as LGBT+ can be offered support by youth workers in Surrey to give them a safe space to talk about what matters to them and to be introduced to other young people who are LGBT+.
- LGBT+ youth groups
- Emotional support for LGBT+ young people
- Information for LGBT+ young people
- Support for parents of children who are LGBT+
- Supporting LGBT+ children in schools
LGBT+ youth groups
Youth Workers from Surrey County Council run Twister, which is a safe space where young people can meet to get support, make friends, and take part in fun, creative and awareness raising activities. It is for young people age 13 to 19 and up to 25 if the young adult has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Twister is just like any other youth group. The young people choose how they spend their time there, with the main activities including art, crafts, music and cooking. At the start of the session some young people may choose to change into clothes that reflect their gender identity. The friendly feel of the group allows discussions to open up about issues they might be experiencing or worried about, such as bullying, coming out, relationships, civil rights, equality and being a gay and/or transgender person in public.
Joining Twister for the first time
Feeling safe and respected at Twister is important. For this reason, the venues where the groups take place are kept confidential. Before joining Twister, a youth worker will need to meet a young person to make sure the group is right for them. This first meeting can take place in a public place such as a coffee shop, library, youth centre, school or college.
Is parental consent needed to join Twister?
Attending Twister is confidential. The young person doesn't need to tell their parents or friends why they attend the group. Some young people may prefer to travel to a Twister group outside of their local area, if they have not told friends and family about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Any concerns about privacy can be discussed with the youth worker at Twister.
Finding a local Twister group
Some Twister groups have chosen their own name for their group, such as GLEE! in Spelthorne. To find out more about a Twister group or to ask to join, please contact the relevant person from the list below:
- Guildford - contact Rob Oulton on 07812 758075 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- GLEE! in Spelthorne - contact Louise Champion on email@example.com
- South East Surrey - contact Darren Smith on firstname.lastname@example.org or Luke D'Isabella on Luke.email@example.com
- Woking - contact Sandie Bolger on 07854 511336
Surrey children's charity Eikon run a weekly virtual youth club called iAmMe. The group is for young people who are LGBT+, and between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.
In the sessions young people have the opportunity to meet others, get advice and be signposted to other services when needed. At iAmMe young people take part in activities such as games, darts, cooking and just relaxing with friends.
Due to the confidential nature of the groups, the LGBT Youth Worker will need to first meet a young person who is interested in joining iAmMe. Please email EikonLGBT@eikon.org.uk to register your interest and receive a consent form.
Emotional support for LGBT+ young people
- Counselling for young people is available through the NHS CAMHS service, private therapists and charities across Surrey. It can be helpful for young people to talk to someone outside of their family about things they are struggling with. If you need help finding local support, please use the FIS directory or contact us.
- CYP Havens are in Guildford, Epsom, Staines and Redhill. CYP Haven is for young people aged 10-18 where they can talk about worries and mental health in a confidential, friendly and supportive environment.
- Kooth is a website offering free and confidential online counselling for young people.
- Switchboard is an LGBT+ Helpline, where all the volunteers who answer the calls are also LGBT+. Callers can discuss any concerns they have, including coming out and relationships.
Information for LGBT+ young people
Young people may want to read about the things that affect them online. Information about coming out, meeting other people who are LGBT+ and having healthy relationships can be found on the websites below:
- The Mix gives essential information and advice to people under 25 years old, on topics ranging from mental health to homelessness.
- Stonewall aims to change attitudes across the UK to improve the lives of LGBT+ people.
- The Albert Kennedy Trust supports young LGBT+ people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They also support young people living at home when their family haven't accepted that they are LGBT+.
Support for parents of children who are LGBT+
Advice and support is available for parents of children and young people who are LGBT+. The services below provide information on a range of LGBT+ issues that you might find useful:
- Surrey children's charity Eikon run monthly peer support groups in the borough of Surrey Heath for parents of children who are LGBT+.
- FFLAG stands for Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Supportive guides are available on how to support your child, of any age, before and after they have come out.
- Stonewall have published a downloadable guide called So you think you child is gay to help parents who feel their child is gay but hasn't come out yet.
- Family Lives have information about how to support your child if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
- Mermaids supports people who are transgender and their parents. They have an online forum and helpline for parents who want to know more, or share their experiences about raising a transgender child.
Supporting LGBT+ children in school
Resources for schools to support LGBT+ pupils and raise awareness of LGBT+ issues:
- Healthy Schools Surrey provides advice and resources for teaching young people about sex and relationships in PSHE lessons.
- Gires is the Gender Identity Research & Education Society who have produced an e-learning module for Surrey schools called Caring for gender nonconforming young people.
- Stonewall run courses to help schools to become more inclusive and to support transgender children.