LGBT Youth North West holds a special place in my heart.
Amelia and Sally’s passion and dedication is infectious and has led me to work, volunteer and create freelance projects with them and Art with Heart has partnered with them over the years too. I first popped my head into the building to help in 2008 and I still continue to now. I’ve met some incredible staff, volunteers and of course young people over that time who really do consider the place a second home. Saturday marked their 10th birthday and they held a wonderful event to celebrate, all with an undercurrent of excitement and curiosity as they built up to revealing their new name!
As the big reveal came, the whole room cheered. ‘The Proud Trust’. I felt proud and honoured to be in the room sharing that special moment with everyone – a wonderful mix of past and present staff, volunteers, young people, trustees, advocates and patrons. We are all given a booklet ‘More than a youth project: Ten years of LGBT Youth North West’, as I flicked though, reading as much as I could whilst listening to the speeches, I started to well up. I thought about all those wonderful young people I have met and seen blossom during their time there, some of which have stayed as volunteers and peer workers, others who walked in on their first day feeling so small and left years later tall and proud. Jake, who shares his story in the booklet says “I’ve always said – what LGBTYNW gave me in four years I would never be able to give back in a lifetime of volunteering… I want to give back what I got as a young person here” and he’s not the only one, all the young people I spoke to today echoed that feeling.
Some of the young people gave speeches about their experience, and like every other event my heart swelled with pride for them as they stepped up in front of a very full Centre to tell us about themselves and what the organisation and Centre means to them. This place, these people, this organisation means so much to so many people and will continue to do so, I’m sure. You can’t help but be caught up in the warmth, energy and enthusiasm that every single person is welcomed with when they arrive for the first time, which is one of the reasons we all keep coming back.
At the end of the event we were given the chance to buy a limited edition mug marking the change in name, so I’d like to raise a mug of tea in mine to such wonderful, dedicated, incredibly inspiring staff, volunteers and young people who have been associated with LGBT Youth North West over the past 10 years and also to those who will be now with The Proud Trust.
If you’d like to support The Proud Trust, you can by visiting their website, by donating, volunteering or even getting a little piece of it yourself by visiting their cafe ‘Sidney Street Cafe’ for some of the most delicious food you’ll find in Manchester!