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Access to gay youth service increased over 250 per cent in three years

BeLongTo said that the age profile of those seeking its services has also dropped.

Dublin Pride parade
Dublin Pride parade
Image: Photocall Ireland

THERE’S BEEN AN overall increase of 264 per cent in young people accessing the BeLongTo services between 2008 and 2011.

BeLongTo, a national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people delivers youth work services, awareness campaigns and training for people who work with young people.

The launch of the group’s annual report for 2011 has revealed that there was an increase of 28 per cent in young people accessing its services last year, while the age profile of those seeking its services has also dropped with youth workers now providing support to LGBT people and their families at 12-13 years of age.

New LGBT youth groups opened in Sligo, Mayo, Tallaght, Kilkenny, Tralee and Wexford in 2011 bringing the number of groups in BeLongTo’s national network to 14.

In Dublin 20 per cent more young people accessed services last year, while outside that capital that figure grew to 53 per cent.

Launching the Annual Review, Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said:

No young person should be made suffer because of who they are and for this reason my Department is very proud to support BeLonG To’s important work.

BeLongTo has worked with the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention and the One Foundation in an effort to address the issue of homophobic bullying and brought an awareness campaign to every secondary school in Ireland.

The campaign also received international recognition by UNESCO and was translated into seven different languages.

The review also found that there was a shift in online engagement by young LGBT people.

Historically, online engagement had been informal once- off interactions, but in 2011 the online engagement shifted dramatically to a more regular and in-depth use of online resources and tools for support.

In 2011, 51% of online visitors returned to the site more than once and spent on average 25% more time engaging with the organisation online.

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Emer McLysaght

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