This month, Bytes is excited to be starting a new project working with Cara-Friend to capture the voices and stories of LGBT+ young people in rural areas of Northern Ireland.
Through funding provided by Comic Relief, we’ll be using the Positive Sparks platform to give participants a space to articulate their views on their communities, their hopes for the future and what they want to achieve. The Positive Sparks platform focuses on a simple series of six questions – giving young people room to expand upon their answers as much as they like – that allow us to better understand the day-to-day issues that affect young people. This in turn helps us both in advocating for young people and planning the work that we do with them.
As the platform has grown and developed, we have focused in particular on working with young people from rural areas of Northern Ireland. Our experience has shown us that young people here are often isolated, with fewer opportunities to access services, further education and employment.
This partnership with Cara-Friend is particularly important for us, as hearing the voices of LGBT+ young people is essential to building a better understanding of the challenges facing the youth of Northern Ireland today. We are also interested in comparing the experiences of rural and urban LGBT+ young people. Cara-Friend, formed in 1974, runs regional LGBT+ youth groups across Northern Ireland, as well as the LGBT Switchboard NI helpline service and the LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools Programme, among other initiatives.
Initially planned to be completed during the summer, the delay in starting due to COVID-19 restrictions has meant that an additional question regarding young people’s experiences during the pandemic will feature as part of this project. As we move towards a recovery from the pandemic, including the voices of those from often marginalised communities is particularly important.
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