No young person struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation should feel alone.
This is the message to young people living in Cornwall as NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS Kernow) announces a new working partnership with the Intercom Trust.
As part of NHS Kernow’s Turning the Tide programme, which aims to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people living in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, it has provided a £24,000 grant to the Intercom Trust.
The grant will allow the charity to continue its work with young people with gender identity and sexual orientation needs.
The Intercom Trust was set up 21 years ago to help the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender + (LGBT+) community in the southwest, and the funding will ensure it can continue to meet the rising demand for its services across Cornwall.
It provides confidential support for people and their families who may be struggling with issues such as homophobic and transphobic prejudice, crime and discrimination, setting up LGBT+ groups where young people and their families can make friends as well as working with schools.
The Intercom Trust also works closely with GPs to make sure people within the LGBT+ community receive the best help if they are struggling with feelings of isolation or mental health.
Andy Hunt, Intercom Trust’s chief executive, said: “Year-on-year our service demand has increased, especially from young people who are struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“The work we do with the clients and families is vital to reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and also to improve their mental and emotional health and build up resilience.”
The number of people in Cornwall who approached the Intercom Trust for help between 2016 and 2017 was 223, nearly double of that of the previous year.
The charity also saw a surge in the number of people approaching the service for the first time, up from 67 to 158 – representing a 236 per cent increase year-on-year.
Dr Laura Ashton, children's clinical lead for NHS Kernow, said: “I am extremely pleased that NHS Kernow has been able to support the Intercom Trust to support young people who are struggling with issues around their sexual orientation or gender.
“This support is part of NHS Kernow's Turning the Tide plans to improve provision for children's mental in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”
Dr Paul Cook, NHS Kernow’s clinical lead for mental health, added: “The feeling of loneliness and isolation by members of the LGBT community, if left, can lead to long-term mental health problems.
“The Intercom Trust’s support is invaluable to many young people and their families. Young people need to know if they are finding issues around their sexual orientation or gender a struggle, then the Intercom Trust is available to support you and also a place to make friends. Don’t bottle it and don’t suffer feeling alone in silence. You’ll soon find you are not alone.”
The grant will initially fund support services delivered by the Intercom Trust up until the summer.