A Dorset LGBT+ charity has been named Community Action Network’s latest Community Hero in the Spotlight, as it marks 20 years of supporting young LGBT+ people and their families.

The Space Youth Project was originally established in 2001, and now runs five youth groups and a support network across Dorset, giving young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBT+) people the opportunity to join a supportive community.

Community Action Network (CAN) is happy to announce that ‘Space Youth Project’ has been successfully chosen as its Community Hero in the Spotlight – a monthly initiative in which CAN celebrates local charities for their contribution to the community.

Space Youth Project started with one support group in Bournemouth in 2001 and over the years it has extended its groups to a larger area: Poole, Christchurch, Dorchester, Weymouth, Bridport, and Sherborne.

The charity now runs five regular, free youth groups across Dorset which are open to any young person under the age of 25 who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or is questioning their sexuality.

Space also offer one-to-one support, family support, workshops for schools, colleges or youth groups, and professional training.

A Space member explains: “I go to Space to grow confidence, make more friends, socialise, and learn vital skills when it comes to adult life especially as a LGBT+ person.”

Emma Lee, CAN’s partnerships manager said about Space: “The Space Youth project is phenomenal, a lifeline for so many young people across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, providing support not only to young people but helping their families and friends navigate through what can be challenging for so many. We are so proud to be able to champion and celebrate charities such as Space, which are rarely talked about, through our Community Hero in the Spotlight initiative.”

The project aims to help young people to develop positive self-esteem, to know they are supported, to have a sense of community and to facilitate freedom of expression.

A young Space volunteer said: “I've really enjoyed the work that I've done with Space. I think it's done me so much good to talk about my experience and come out to so many people as well! We received so much positive feedback from everyone including a few people who were clearly personally very touched. Thank you for helping to facilitate the work and to all the space people who joined us for sessions or gave us powerful testimonials.”

A parent thanked Space: “I am very grateful for the support my child has received and how inclusive everyone is at the group. I have seen the difference in my child and the difference it has made to us as a family. Thank you for being such an awesome team you are all individually awesome.”

The Space Youth Project website features members’ responses to the statement “WITHOUT SPACE I WOULD FEEL…” and the responses demonstrate the positive impact that the charity has had.

A few examples are: “I would feel devastated”, “Alone”, “I don’t want to think about it!”, “Extremely sad”, “Lost. Probably still not out.”

Space Youth Project has provided vital support during the COVID-19 pandemic, running virtual groups when physical meetings weren’t possible. Currently, physical and virtual meetings are organised on an alternating basis.

For more information, please visit Space Youth Project website: https://www.spaceyouthproject.co.uk/

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