Irish Red Cross Youth win prestigious Federation award
Irish Red Cross Youth were presented with the 2019 “Youth on the Move” Award at a special ceremony in Geneva, for its LGBTI+ Allies Programme in the “Promoting Social Inclusion and Culture of Non-Violence and Peace” category. A huge congratulations is due to all those involved in this fantastic achievement which gives an international platform to a very innovative programme which was developed in house by Irish Red Cross Youth.
Ronan Gannon from Co Mayo is a member of the National Youth Working Group and was selected as the Youth Delegate to attend the Statutory Meetings in Geneva in December. Ronan gave a presentation about the LGBTI+ Allies programme at the meetings and accepted the award on behalf of IRCY.
Nearly half of young LGBTI+ people in Ireland don’t feel comfortable being themselves and sometimes feel the need to hide details of their personal lives for fear of not “fitting in” or of being discriminated against. 47% of LGBTI+ 13-24 year olds surveyed by Gay Community News’ “Budding Burning Issues” survey in 2017 said that lack of acceptance in society is their number one issue while 70% of those surveyed said that they did not feel safe at school because of bullying.
This is where the LGBTI+ Allies programme steps in.
An LGBTI+ Ally is someone who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBTI+ people even if they don’t identify as LGBT. Allies help by being visible and standing up to homophobic or transphobic language; sending a clear message that discrimination is not acceptable and that everyone should be free to be themselves. Being “Out as an LGBTI+ Ally” in Irish Red Cross Youth creates an environment for LGBTI+ people to feel comfortable to be out, and be themselves.
The programme aims to allow for a greater understanding of LGBTI+ issues and definitions and helps create a safe and welcoming space for all volunteers. It also aims to promote social inclusion and alleviate the emotional suffering of LGBTI+ people and teaches correct, appropriate and sensitive language to all Irish Red Cross volunteers offering frontline services.
The LGBTI+ Allies programme was developed due to motions submitted at the Irish Red Cross National Youth Forum in 2017 and after requests were received directly from youth members. Tom Doyle who is a member of the National Youth Working Group and Regional Director of Youth for Dublin Mid-Leinster is the project lead.
The LGBT+ Allies programme was initially funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and thanks to this support, the Irish Red Cross has been able to offer its LGBTI+ Allies training to all youth leaders and youth members within Irish Red Cross, as well as members of any age who are interested in the topic. This programme supports the Irish Government’s LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020 under Goals 1 and 2.
The programme is delivered using mixed media – presentations, videos and group activities and leaders who have completed it say they feel more comfortable and confident speaking about LGBTI+ issues with young people.
This is the second time Irish Red Cross Youth has won an award from the Federation. IRCY received the Society’s first ever Federation award in 2011 for their HIV Awareness programme (which will be relaunched in an updated format in 2020).