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GLYNI gives young people the chance to express themselves ..it has such a positive effect; NOMINEES.

Byline: AMANDA POOLE

IN the build-up to the Pride of Northern Ireland Awards at Stormont on December 3 the Daily Mirror has been busy uncovering some amazing community work.

We visited the Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland (GLYNI) group in Belfast city centre to find out more about the great work that has gone on there over the last 13 years to support young men and women.

OVER the last 13 years GLYNI has supported more than 30,000 young people in Northern Ireland.

The section of the Cara-Friend charity was set up in 1999 after a need for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth group was identified.

GLYNI, funded by Youth Net, is run by development officer Mark Brown, with the support of 12 dedicated volunteers.

Its purpose is to make young gay men and women aged between 14 and 25 feel safe and give them space to be themselves.

There are currently more than 220 members of the Belfast group and hundreds more throughout groups in Northern Ireland.

Mark said: "There has been a massive increase in young people attending the group as the years have passed.

"Aside from the Belfast group there are now regional services in Portadown, Newry and we are opening in Coleraine soon too.

"We have a trans youth group in Belfast and we work very closely with the Gay-Straight Alliance in Shimna College, which has the first Gay-Straight Alliance set up in a school in the UK."

The young people supported by GLYNI meet for weekly workshop nights, covering topics they are interested in finding out more about.

Mark said: "We cover things like sexual health, how to build and maintain a healthy and safe relationship, mental health, team building, suicide and selfharm awareness.

"We also offer OCN training so people can become qualified youth workers and we work closely with Springboard in Belfast too.

"One of our young people is out in Canada at the minute with Springboard, working in a HIV support centre."

Mark said young people from all areas, backgrounds and social class approach GLYNI for help.

He added: "We get young people from all walks of life.

"We help young people who have been accepted by their friends and family, and we also help young people who haven't been.

"We get young people who have been kicked out of the house and quite a few who are struggling with sexuality and their religion."

Mark has worked for GLYNI for over a year and says his job is very rewarding.

He added: "A young man we have assisted was kicked out of his house because he told his family he was gay.

"He worked for the family business, so he lost his job and his home.

"Over the last year he has developed a very successful career and is putting himself through school. He's got a place to live and really great support network."

Many of the young people who attend GLYNI have been unable to "come out" due to prejudice in society.

For those young people who haven't been able to share who they are with friends and family, GLYNI is a safe environment where they can be true to themselves.

Mark said: "Some young people that come to us aren't out in school or with their friends.

"They can't be themselves, so GLYNI gives them the chance to express themselves and talk. It has such a positive effect on them."

Mark told how the Pride of Northern Ireland Awards were an excellent idea and the young people from GLYNI are excited that they have been invited to Stormont on December 3. He said: "They are excited about the award ceremony and preparing for the night.

"It's created a massive buzz among our young people. More than the yearly residential and that's saying something!

"The fact that the Daily Mirror and the Pride of Northern Ireland Awards has recognised GLYNI as a group and that young LGBT people are there has been a real positive boost for them.

"They have taken that on board because it is putting GLYNI on a platform and showing them they have support."

For more information about GLYNI check out Facebook, email mark.brown@cara-friend. org.uk or visit www.glyni.org.uk.

NOMINATIONS have now closed for the 2011 Pride of Northern Ireland Awards.

CAPTION(S):

SUPPORT Leader Mark Brown SKY'S THE LIMIT On skydive TOP TEAM Members of the Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland FINE ART TO IT Group work together PRIDE In street parade
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 14, 2011
Words:757
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