New Milestone in Carlow: Funding sourced to develop first LGBTI Support Network

Promoting individual wellness and resilient communities is the aim of many initiatives run by Carlow County Development Partnership CLG, seeking to create a more inclusive county where everyone can participate fully, regardless of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

Focused work with the Carlow LGBTI community began in 2017, arising from the Connecting For Life strategy, which identified members of the LGBTI community at a high risk of suicide. Carlow County Development Partnership was also contacted by individuals looking for support and ran a successful workshop during the Mensana Mental Health festival in October 2017, with the intention of setting up supports for the LGBTI community.

Around the same time, the Government announced funding of €5 million to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland projects in a variety of settings, through the Local Community Development Committees (LCDC). Carlow County Development Partnership worked with a team of relevant agencies on behalf of the LCDC and was pleased to see the allocation of €12,000 to conduct research on the needs of the LGBTI community in Carlow and to develop some support structures to be completed by 31st March 2018.

Social Inclusion Manager, Karl Duffy spoke about the work carried out to date “We are delighted that so much has been achieved in the short time frame of this Healthy Ireland initiative. We support the development of all groups in the county who are working towards greater equality and to encourage the full inclusion of all members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We are also focusing on mental health supports for members of those communities based on research showing the need for that work”.

Since January 2018, great progress has been made in assessing the needs of the LGBTI Community in Carlow and in creating support structures. Two informal networking meetings were held, as was a Focus Group discussion in the Talbot Hotel. A county-wide on-line consultation process was conducted, inviting members of the LGBT community in Carlow to say what matters most to them, the challenges that they face and what supports would help in building sustainable community actions and this was followed up by one-to-one interviews. A LGBTI Awareness support workshop for family members and colleagues was held in the Seven Oaks Hotel. The next day this was followed by very successful Awareness training for professionals which was attended by 22 individuals from different agencies around the county. All of this work came together in a symbolic way by the first ever LGBT participation the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Carlow.

Co-ordinator for the project Hayley Fox Roberts said “The LGBTI Voices Project is a far-reaching and positive addition to Carlow County Development Partnership’s work with communities experiencing disadvantage. Jo Donohoe has provided both vision and direction in acknowledging, and creatively addressing, the ongoing needs of the county’s LGBTI population. The project’s success lies in the strong base of targeted actions in early 2018 and the Partnership’s commitment to continued, sustainable engagement with the newly-empowered LGBTI population of the county, and the increased awareness of service providers in delivering timely, relevant services”

 On Saturday 21st April, Carlow Town parkrun is collaborating with the LGBTI Voices in Carlow project, to welcome LGBTI people of the county into the parkrun community. As with every week, the Rainbow parkrun is open to all members of the community including runners, joggers or walkers.

 If you would like more information about the LGBTI Voices in Carlow Project and Network, please contact 087 9890336 or lgbtworkcarlow@gmail.com

Any individuals impacted by the information in this report or wishing to seek more information are encouraged to contact Joanne Donohoe on 059 9720733 or jdonohoe@carlowdeveloplment.ie