The LGBT+ Northern Social Group (NSG) began as a Facebook group in 2017. It was set up to provide a safe space for LGBT+ people to meet up and connect without experiencing the pressures, expectations or prejudices that they might encounter in other meeting spaces for LGBT+ people and communities. As part of our Pride Month celebrations we asked LGBT+ Northern Social Group to talk us through their journey so far and how Connected Voice Support and Development has guided them in becoming a registered charity.
We started looking into registering as a charity at the beginning of 2020. None of the team had ever been involved in the set up of a charity and we ended up wasting a lot of time going around in circles. Finding information online was near impossible and we were having to piece things together from the small bits of information that we could. We only became aware of Connected Voice and their support at the beginning of 2021 when someone we knew put us in touch with the Support and Development team.
Being an LGBTQIA+ organisation we aim for complete inclusivity and equity which means that it has proved difficult in finding help and support from organisations who understand the spectrum of the communities within. Connected Voice were respectful of everything we wanted to do, our aims and their understanding made it so much easier and enjoyable.
Understanding our needs
Lockdown has affected our communities in many different ways, from isolation, confidence, loneliness and the financial impact. In turn this has all had a knock on effect on mental health for our members. Connected Voice understood the issues that were affecting our communities during lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions and the socioeconomic impacts continuing out of this difficult time and saw the importance in our services being available online so we could reach out to those who were struggling. (You can read more about the impact of COVID-19 in Connected Voice's recent research piece - Voices of the Pandemic, which featured LGBT+ Northern Social Group).
Since receiving support from Connected Voice we are in the process of completing our application online with the Charity Commission and have fully completed the documents we need to complete this. We have also been granted our first lot of funding. The belief that Connected Voice has had in us has not just helped us with the logistics and practical side of our organisation but also with our confidence. We are unique in our area with our plans and our values, and from the help and support we've received we truly believe we will help so many more people. Being able to connect with other LGBTQIA+ organisations with similar values would be such a huge benefit as we continue forwards with the aims to promote social inclusion and confidence building in safe spaces.
The future of LGBT+ Northern Social Group
LGBT+ Northern Social Group are now in a fantastic position with our immediate and future plans. Charity status will allow us the freedom to push forwards and formalise many of our plans. We are planning on informal socialisation meet ups which are Covid safe as well as a family picnic in the park. We will be continuing our online events and building our in person events and bringing awareness for our communities into physical events again. I know that through my own journey within my sexuality it has seemed like a lonely place, often struggling to feel like I fit in and I know had I had a place like LGBTnsg earlier in my life, it might not have felt so isolating. Connected Voice is now helping us push forwards and help make sure that members of our communities do not have to feel like this.