Empowering the Future – LGBTQI+ Awareness Training Helps Make Difference Normal

26th July 2023
Marcus And Chris

“Difference is Normal” is the theme of a series of both informative and imaginative training videos which have been made by staff at Lakewood Regional Secure Care Centre in Bangor to raise awareness of LGBTQI+ issues to mark Belfast Pride Week.

The lively training videos which have been posted on the South Eastern Trust’s social media channels. have been developed for young people and staff and hosted by Marcus Hunter Neill, known to many as Lady Portia Di’Monte.

The videos cover many wide-ranging issues such as support networks available for young people and staff about sexual health, diversity and equality, the importance of pronouns and we hear from same sex couples who foster children.

Highlighting the value these sessions will bring to the young people in the centre, Governance & Improvement Lead, Chris Millar said, “I feel raising awareness about LGBTQI+ issues here in Lakewood Centre is very important.  We have realised over the last few years, there is a higher number of young people struggling with their identity and have questions about their sexuality.

“This has allowed us to explore those feelings and thoughts, to let our young people know that it is ok to question these issues, but more importantly to know that they have the support of the staff, knowledge and skills to help them.

“By providing comprehensive training tools, we can create an environment where young people feel seen, heard, and valued for who they are. The training promotes inclusivity, empathy and a much deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQI+ young people, providing space for their personal growth and rehabilitation. It is also crucial for staff to feel they have the knowledge and language to support LGBTQI+ young people effectively.”

Assistant Director for Residential and Leaving Care Services, Marie-Louise Sloan commented, ‘I am delighted with these unique and creative videos which I really hope gets the message across that “Difference is Normal”.

Understanding sexual identity, even when it may not be explicitly disclosed, enables staff to provide appropriate care, guidance and support.”

Explaining the benefits of the awareness training, Marcus said, “I think it is so important that awareness projects like this are happening. By creating visibility and allowing young people to see that “difference is normal”, they won’t feel different, they will feel normal.  As children and young people grow up, they will know they are ok just the way they are.”

The awareness videos can be accessed on our social media pages and on the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust website www.setrust.hscni.net