News News and blogs Six months on: Wales’ first LGBTQ+ specific supporting living project for young people In October 2019, Llamau’s Project Manager, Emma Evans, walked into a shell of a building with a vision in mind. Jump forward to early December 2019, Emma and her team have transformed a bare, lifeless building into a warm and welcoming home for LGBTQ+ young people in Wales. Ty Pride, as the project has been named by the young people living there, is the first of its kind in Wales, offering intensive, individual support specifically designed for LGBTQ+ young people aged between 16-25. The support available centres around a number of protected characteristics including age, sexuality, gender and disability (mental health). It helps to remove barriers for LGBTQ+ young people accessing safe and supportive accommodation. Working in partnership with Denbighshire County Council and local LGBTQ+ group Viva, Ty Pride is a bespoke project that specialises in supporting young people who identify as LGBTQ+. The support aims to help guide them through their respective challenges whilst living in a comfortable, accepting environment, where they can be or become their true selves. Six months on from opening, Emma explains how the young people living at Ty Pride and within the community are getting on: “It’s amazing to see the young people settling into Ty Pride the way we hoped they would. One young person has never been able to be herself but now she lives within a unique, safe and inclusive home, she can finally be that person. “It’s great to see how the support available has helped the young people come to terms with their experiences and further connect with their identities. They’re growing into themselves more and more each day. “Everything we do at Ty Pride is LGBTQ+ focused but we also try to balance the environment so it feels like a home, providing structure but warmth. We recently held our first Pride event, which was a first for two of the young people. Neither had attended a Pride event before so this was a special occasion for us all.” In addition to the support from Viva, the young people receive individual counselling from a specialist Psychotherapist. This additional weekly support ensures young people can explore their thoughts and feelings and come to terms with their experiences. Since welcoming the first young person into the project before Christmas last year, Emma explains how Ty Pride has exceeded all expectations and continues to do so: “Originally we were only going to support two young people within the Supported Living Project and one externally but since opening we’ve had so many referrals, we’ve simply had to expand. “At one stage, we were supporting eight young people but we’re now supporting six; three within the house and three within the community. All are doing well. “We’ve had referrals coming in from all corners of Wales but we cannot help everyone unfortunately, which just shows how important it is to continue opening projects like Ty Pride which offer tailored support and a safe space specifically for LGBTQ+ young people.” Recruiting the right Llamau colleagues to support the young people was integral to the holistic support package that Ty Pride offers. Although the Support Workers at Ty Pride don’t necessarily identify as LGBTQ+ themselves, it was important to recruit people that have an understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, their rights and the many challenges they face. “Every member of the team has a good connection to the LGBTQ+ community and an understanding that means they work in a non-judgemental, supportive and inclusive way with young people. One team member has a son that identifies, another a niece, and all have friends, which was important to us when recruiting.” It remains a frightening fact that LGBTQ+ young people in Wales are five times more likely to be made homeless than their peers, but the work being done at Ty Pride continues to go from strength to strength, making a positive difference to the lives of many young people whilst working to eradicate this horrifying statistic for good.