“Taking part in the photography workshops has made me feel more confident in social situations – the activities have made me feel more sociable and open as a person. I think it’s boosted my teamwork skills quite a lot. Commuting here every day on public transport has made me feel more independent too.  I think I learned that maybe I enjoy photography much more than I thought I did. The arts can be quite therapeutic and can help young people express themselves through their identity and help find themselves as well. Art, drama, public expression, they all contribute to the whole social attitude towards the LGBT community and it’s just better to keep it in the light rather than in the shadows all the time. Projects like this not only strengthen the pathways of your own education mentally and creatively, but they also allow you to branch out to others and communicate, connecting with new people that you wouldn’t necessarily meet in the immediate community that you live in.

We do live in a society where in schools there is quite a lot of homophobic abuse and verbal abuse that will push people back into the closet. I feel that as people come out more, it will change society’s outlooks on it more. I think it’s all a matter of understanding, because if you don’t have the education or the understanding then obviously you’re going to make presumptions that might not be true. Personally I’m gay and I came out last year to everyone. It’s been a good journey really, because a lot of people have been supportive. I thought that I had to come out because, not only would it empower me more, but it would also empower other people who are in the closet, and maybe encourage them to be more comfortable with their own identity and their own thoughts.  I joined the METRO group about three weeks ago and it has been really enjoyable so far. It’s something that I look forward to every week.” – Daniel*, aged 16, creative:together – an LGBT Youth Creative Arts Programme – participant

A new partnership between award-winning arts charity Create, METRO Charity and international law firm Ashurst is giving young people in South London who identify as LGBT access to confidence-boosting creative arts workshops.

Pride and Confidence: Photography Workshops Empower Young LGBT People

photo: Create charity

Create have been delivering free photography workshops led by its professional photographer Tracey Fahy to young people who attend METRO Charity’s youth groups. Volunteers from Ashurst will join each workshop contributing their own skills and experiences.

Pride and Confidence: Photography Workshops Empower Young LGBT People

photo: Create charity

These workshops mark the beginning of creative:together, an LGBT Youth Creative Arts Programme, which will run until July giving the young people opportunities to learn new skills and develop their creativity in workshops exploring music, drama and visual art.

In the photography sessions, the group will explore how they can celebrate diversity, alternative family models and relationships, with the objective of boosting confidence in themselves. After looking at images of LGBT icons and role models, the young people will experiment with self-portraiture and take photos of each other to explore identities within the group and develop friendships. A visit to Islington Museum’s exhibition ‘Stories of Faith and Gender Beyond the Binary’ and a LGBT walk through Soho will provide further inspiration for the young people as they take their cameras to the streets.

A report from Stonewall found that homophobic bullying is three times as common as racist bullying in secondary schools. Compounding this, Stonewall also reports that bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation is related to poorer mental health, increased risk of substance abuse, lower sense of belonging, and lower life satisfaction. Create uses collaborative arts workshops to enable individuals to build self-esteem, experience the benefits of creative self-expression, develop trusting relationships with their peers, and strengthen their support network.

The quote at the top of the page from Daniel* shows the impact these workshops are having on young people. Click here to find out more about Create and the programme.

*The name has been changed for confidentiality reasons

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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