WE are delighted to launch a new project which will reduce the number of young LGBTQIA+ people’s mental health reaching ‘crisis point’.

Pride Action North has been successful in its bid of £168,340 from the National Lottery Community Fund to launch a project providing vital support to people aged between 11 and 25 who are LGBTQIA+ and are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

We have introduced the project, entitled Supporting LGBTQIA+ Young People to Thrive In and Out of Education, as our link workers often work with young people who have already reached ‘crisis point’ because of a lack of specialist support across the region.

As part of the funding, a new role of education coordinator at the charity will be created to work closely with schools, colleges and universities across the North to create inclusive environments that encourage acceptance, support and understanding for LGBTQIA+ communities.

It will also allow our workers to collaborate with education professionals, provide training and resources, and facilitate referrals to community-based services so young people can receive the right level of support and opportunities.

The Lottery funding will also result in the creation of a further link worker position at the charity to ensure that extra support is available to young people once they are referred to us.

Our chair Darren Irvine-Duffy said: “When young people are referred to Pride Action North, sadly it is all too often that they are already at crisis point because there is a sorely missing link between community-based support and education.

“What this new Lottery-funded project focuses on is early intervention to help identify issues within young LGBTQIA+ people and make sure they have access to the best support and advocacy available to prevent their personal circumstances worsening.

“It will be key to work closer with professionals and upskill their workforce so young people are able to receive improved levels of support within education, while also ensuring increased access to other community-based services for support while out of an education setting.

“The new project will improve mental health and wellbeing, and reduce feelings of isolation and social insecurity by fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment for LGbTQIA+ children and young people so they feel happier as a result of positive intervention.”

It is estimated that more than 900 young people across the North East will benefit from this new project over the three-year lifespan of the funding.

The project will be rolled out in Northumberland in the first year before being extended into Tyne & Wear over the following two years.

On completion of the project, it is hoped that PAN will be able to continue the additional work offering a valuable support service to the region’s young people.

Our charity manager Angela Brudenell said: “This project will have a far-reaching impact on people who don’t know where to turn for help, or feel that there is nobody out there to call on.

“Improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ communities is fundamental to everything we do at Pride Action North, and we are delighted to have been supported by the National Lottery to carry out such vital work for the young people in our area.”

The National Lottery Community Fund awards grants to strengthen society and improve lives across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players, it will distribute at least £4 billion by 2030, supporting activities that create resilient communities that are more inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

Duncan Nicholson, Head of Funding for North East & Cumbria at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players and the hard work and dedication of Pride Action North, this project will play a pivotal role in improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people from LGBTQIA+ communities.

“The award fits with The National Lottery Community Fund’s four key missions, which are to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives.

“We’re delighted that our grants are being used to support great projects that strengthen communities and improve lives in our region.”

A YOUTH group organised by Pride Action North which provides free activities for young people often from deprived backgrounds has received support from our local MP.

East Bedlington Youth Club runs each Friday to allow children aged between eight and 12 from the town to congregate and have fun under adult supervision, providing opportunities their families might not ordinarily have access to or be able to afford.

We also recently introduced East Bedlington Holiday Club, a free provision held every Monday during the summer for children aged five to 12.

The youth sessions have proved popular with local young people, and has attracted the attention of Wansbeck MP Mr Lavery who visited us to show his support for the positive work we are carrying out.

He said: “I had a positive meeting with representatives from Pride Action North who have been doing some fantastic work in my constituency to support a wide range of young people often from deprived backgrounds.

“It is so important that support like this is out there for young people, especially during such a difficult period financially and the knock on effect that this can have on their mental health, as well as physical wellbeing.

“I look forward to working with the team at Pride Action North long into the future to support their continued efforts to make a positive impact here in Wansbeck, and the wider North.”

Mr Lavery’s visit was organised to allow the MP to engage with some of the positive projects supported by our funding partners UK Youth, as part of their Thriving Minds Project.

Following the success of East Bedlington Youth Club, we are looking to roll out similar ventures across Northumberland.

The youth club has been a great success since we introduced the sessions to young people in Bedlington, and the positive impact it has made on the lives of the youths and their families has been significant.

Being able to provide a safe place for them to spend time and engage with their friends instead of being bored with nothing to do, which can often lead to causing anti-social behaviour, is something we are really passionate about at Pride Action North.

To receive such glowing praise and strong support from our local MP is really pleasing, and we are excited about how we can improve the sessions we run to serve a larger group of youths across the county.

Supported by East Bedlington Parish Council, the youth club is held at East Bedlington Community Centre on Friday evenings between 6pm and 8pm.

The holiday club runs on Mondays during the summer school holidays between 9.30am and 12.30pm.

For more information, contact support@northumberlandpride.org.uk.

The UK Youth Fund – Thriving Minds is an ambitious £11m fund to improve mental health support and provision for young people through youth work, funded by the Julia and Hans Rausing Trust and The Westminster Foundation.

Support for young people in their community is needed now more than ever. Thriving Minds forms part of UK Youth’s commitment to channel at least £30m into youth work by 2025.

For more information about the UK Youth Fund – Thriving Minds, visit www.ukyouth.org.uk/thriving-minds.

After months of keeping it a secret, we can finally unveil a major transformation which encapsulates the additional support services we provide as a leading LGBTQIA+ charity across a larger geographical area.

To coincide with the conclusion of Pride Month, we have changed our name from Northumberland Pride to Pride Action North.

The change of name is intended to better communicate the high volume of services we provide for members of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the North of England.

Northumberland Pride was established by volunteers in 2017 to organise an annual celebration event for the people of the county, and has grown significantly over the years.

We now employ eight members of staff to cater for the increased demand for our specialist support and advocacy in areas such as youth work, hate crime, domestic violence and mental health and wellbeing.

Changing our name to Pride Action North signifies just one part of the transformation, as we have also unveiled new branding, mission statement and values too.

Our chair Darren Irvine-Duffy said: “The development of the charity has been quite phenomenal when I reflect on the early days of wanting to bring a Pride event to the people of Northumberland so they didn’t have to travel to a city.

“There’s been a very natural transition to an organisation which provides holistic support and meaningful services to ensure every member of our growing community feels accepted for who they are and safe in every environment.

“The rebranding is the biggest moment in our history, and we are very excited to be operating under a new name as we continue to increase our presence and support communities throughout the North.

“As the name suggests, we are an organisation which takes action as we strive towards making the region a safer, more inclusive and accepting place for everybody to live, particularly members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We have invested endless hours of time and effort in engaging with a cross section of service users, stakeholders and staff through various focus groups to gauge their views of what our organisation means to them and we are thrilled with the outcome of the extensive rebranding project.

“Operating as Pride Action North will open more doors to provide additional services, and these are extremely exciting times for our charity, our partner organisations and all our members.”

The rebrand comes at a time of significant expansion for us after recently appointing our first charity manager and extending our reach through dedicated link workers to support LGBTQIA+ people.

Among the services we provide are a range of community and youth work such as one to one support, counselling, youth and adult group sessions, mental health and wellbeing support, domestic and sexual violence and abuse support, hate crime support and engagement with schools.

We also run a number of training and development programmes focusing on inclusivity, advocacy, awareness raising and partnership working and collaboration.

Our charity manager Angela Brudenell said: “Pride Action North carries out such meaningful and vital work in its quest to remove discrimination in all its forms, and delivers an equitable service which meets the needs of everyone within our communities.

“Allowing as many people to access our services, and receive support and guidance, is of great importance to us as an organisation, and we have strengthened our team and facilities to accommodate an increase in referrals to our services.”

The expansion of Pride Action North continues at pace as we announce two key appointments.

As an organisation, we have grown significantly since being formed in 2017, and we have introduced multiple new support and advice services to our portfolio.

To help with the ongoing expansion, we are delighted to announce we have appointed Dan Zadeh as a link worker to engage with young people across the North East and well-respected university lecturer and human rights researcher Drew Dalton onto its board of trustees.

Born to an English mother and Iranian father, Dan had struggled with his identity for most of his life until he learned to accept himself for who he is while in rehabilitation for alcohol and drug addiction.

His spell in rehab changed his outlook on life and he started working with Sporting Chance, an alternative education provider in the North East working with children excluded from mainstream education.

Dan is currently at an advanced stage in becoming a qualified counsellor and is combining his studies with working with the region’s LGBTQIA+ young people through his new role with our charity.

He said: “I was miserable for 30 years of my life and I never felt like I belonged to any group of society because I was bullied for my race due to my father’s background, but what I have learned is that you can change things and find self-acceptance. I feel like young people can relate to me and my experiences, and we can build strong and trusting relationships.

“I am really excited to be working with such a great charity like Pride Action North and supporting young people find their joy in life and accept themselves as they are, and I’m grateful for the team for taking a chance on me.”

Drew is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and the Programme Leader in Inequality and Society at the University of Sunderland, and is Founder, Chair and Chief Executive of global LGBTQIA+ human rights charity ReportOUT.

He has more than 20 years of experience working in education and with charities, with specialisms in people living with HIV, LGBTQI+ histories and supporting LGBTQI+ Muslims living in the UK.

Drew said: “In my current role as chair of trustees at ReportOUT, and with my background in managing local charities focused around LGBTQI+ issues, I’m well placed to understand the challenges faced by the third sector. I hope to bring this wealth of learning with me as a trustee to hopefully benefit Northumberland Pride.

“It’s a great honour to be part of such a growing and thriving organisation, and I hope to work with the rest of the trustees to ensure that it continues to be a success in the future.”

Our chair Darren Irvine-Duffy said of the appointments: “2023 is the most exciting year for Northumberland Pride as a charity and our growth has been amazing in terms of support services we now provide and our staffing levels.

“To help us grow, we need exceptional people within the organisation and we are absolutely delighted to have Dan and Drew on board to keep building on the excellent reputation we have created over the years.

“Dan is somebody who young people can instantly relate to, and his understanding and compassion means he is a real asset to the organisation.

“Drew is one of the best connected people within the Northern LGBTQIA+ community and has travelled the globe exploring issues and trends within

that world, and having his specialism on hand to lean on and learn from is something that will take the charity to the next level.”

We have introduced support services aimed specifically at victims of LGBTQIA+ hate crime as incidents across the North East sadly continue to rise.

The latest figures available from the four police force areas in the region revealed that 951 reports of hate crimes linked to sexual orientation or transgenderism were recorded in 2020-21 – a 108 per cent increase from 458 in 2016-17.

As well as providing a range of support services and training programmes for LGBTQIA+ people across the whole of the North of England, we are now offering one-to-one support and advocacy services to those who have encountered hateful actions from members of the public.

Our charity manager Angela Brudenell said: “Sadly, reports of hate crime aimed at people within the LGBTQIA+ community have become more common across the North East but we want those affected to know that there is help, support and friendliness out there to help them through it.

“Pride Action North has a link worker and wellbeing worker who work on a one-to-one basis with service users to provide holistic support and advocacy facilities to help people feel more comfortable in themselves despite facing discrimination.

“We also have a great counselling referral service in place where we can ensure those affected by hate crime can access the right help and advice they need.

“Through our services, people will be listened to, will find friendship and will be assured that we will do all we can to help and support them through some tough times.”

While the statistics about the high level of hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are alarming, they don’t paint the full picture of the volume of incidents.

Angela said: “Some victims don’t feel comfortable or may be too embarrassed to go to the police, while some who have been shouted at in the street, for example, may actually not realise that the actions are classed as a hate crime.

“So it is our belief that the situation about increasing hate crimes directed at LGBTQIA+ people is actually worse than what is presented.

“Pride Action North is reaching out to these people to help them through any discrimination they may have faced but don’t want to go to the authorities, and let them know they don’t have to go through these experiences alone.”

Since being formed in 2017, we have expanded our support services and training we provide to LGBTQIA+ people across the North East.

In addition to the new hate crime support, we provide a range of community and youth work services including counselling, one-to-one support, group work, mental health and wellbeing support, domestic and sexual violence and abuse support, and referral working.

Among the training and development programmes we run are inclusivity workshops, awareness raising sessions, advocacy, information and advice, and protected characteristics workshops.

We are delighted to announce we have appointed PR and communications agency 32West following a competitive tender process.

The agency, which has offices in Newcastle, Cumbria and Liverpool, will work withus during a milestone moment in our existence as they will lead our rebrand, PR and social media strategy.

We have grown our team, services and footprint significantly since it was established in 2017. And as we look to the future, we plan to reposition ourselves to better reflect our current offering.

Our chair Darren Irvine-Duffy said: “So much has changed since we were founded under the name of Northumberland Pride. 

“The services we offer have expanded significantly, so too has the geography that we cover. It is challenging to capture all of that succinctly – but that is what we’re seeking to do with the support of 32West.

“Beyond our planned rebrand is a desire to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the support services, events and external training opportunities that we offer. We will do that through enhanced activity on our social media channels and through proactively telling our story.”

Both members of the North East Chamber of Commerce, we met representatives of 32West’s North East operation at a networking event.

David Coulter, 32West’s Senior Account Manager for the North East, said: “We love to connect with fellow North East businesses and have found the chamber to be a great vehicle for that.

“A casual chat over festive drinks led to more detailed conversations with Darren and the team and we were delighted to be invited to pitch for this work.

“Pride Action North is an amazing organisation and does so much to support the LGBTQ+ communities in the areas it serves. 

“We love the vision of Darren and Angela, the charity manager, and can’t wait to work by their side as the charity enters the most exciting phase in its history.”