For young people dealing with their sexuality, life can be a lonely place, but there is help out there with an Newton Aycliffe-based LGBT group, as Zoe Skerrett founds out…
“Some people are LGBT Get support” is the motto for Newton Aycliffe’s LGBT support group, which is based at DISC (Developing Initiatives Supporting Commmunities) and ran by Leeann Gittins.
DISC has been running for 30 years and have has delivered a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health and Wellbeing Project in the North-East since 2002, with an office based in Aycliffe.
The project provides young LGBT people aged 15-25 with a range of support services, including one-to-one support, group-based support, a drop-in service and training events.
A large percentage of the support takes place in and around County Durham and this core element is funded by Durham County Council.
The project leader, Billijean, has worked with the service for around 10 years, helping it developing it from a small programme.
“We want to raise awareness in the community about our LGBT support,” said Billijean.
“We currently have 63 people who we support but can only imagine the scope of people out there who are unaware there is services available for them.”
Project worker Leeann Gittins, 32, who is from Aycliffe, works with social services and child protection to provide appropriate support to the more vulnerable young people in the locality.
As well as support with mental and physical health, DISC provides coping mechanisms, advice on coming out, education and employment, as well as DISC offering support with housing, should there be if there was a break down in the family home and the individual person needed a place to stay.
The individual and their support team agree a plan that works and information is given on services and support provided by other services.
Other service groups provided by DISC include a new service for LGBT 11-14-year-olds that is ran by Jo Dixon.
This project works with the young people to help build their own their identity and confidence. The 11-14-year-old support service is a toned service that focuses on individuals on staying in school, reaching their potential and increasing safety, as well as how to cope with bullying and e-safety.
Other projects include a gender support service for young people aged 15 to 25 that who may question their gender identity. This is a North-East Project and is funded by Comic Relief and has had excellent outcomes for the young people who have accessed the services.
These LGBT services are just some of the facilities provided by DISC, a successful organisation providing support and advice for the most vulnerable people across the North.
To find out more, visit www.disc-vol.org.uk or email [email protected]