Last Sunday we visited The Outhouse in Colchester to film some of the young people who attend the project.
The OutHouse is a charity that provides opportunities for LGBTQ+ people in Essex. They run a large programme of services which includes counselling, social events and support groups. The VVU has helped fund a youth counsellor for the project ensuring young people have access to one-on-one support.
The project also supports more than 160 young people through three youth groups in Colchester, Clacton and Harwich, The project also works with local schools to set up LGBTQ+ groups and provides training programmes to external organisations.
The one-to-one sessions with the young people are really important as they act as a gateway to encourage young people to attend the group sessions. From talking to the young people it is these group sessions where they make friends and open up to each other as they participate in all sorts of activities from arts and crafts, animal therapy sessions, make up tutorials, theraplay sessions, music, games and quiz nights.
The project is a safe place for LGBTQ+ young people, a home away from home where they feel safe, secure and a sense of belonging. The building is vibrant, warm and colourful. There are communal areas, a music room and smaller counselling rooms where young people can take time out or get that confidential one-on-one support.
The young people we spoke to said the project gave them a sense of belonging, that their mental health and confidence had improved and they had met other people who shared the same sense of identity.
The OutHouse is clearly a very special place and young people travel from across the county to access its support services. We are pleased we have been able to fund the project and make a difference to so many young people.