Selfies Project - Projects Galore.  2014-2016

A two year project that worked with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) young people in the North East to celebrate strong peer relationships, and help them recognise and resist domestic violence, abuse and sexual exploitation.

Worked with five LGBTQ youth groups across the region:

A group for young lesbians

A mixed group for young trans-people

2 mixed LGBTQ groups

A group for young gay and bisexual men

 

The groups:

  • Analysed love songs to explore the idea that ‘love conquers everything’ and developed an alternative love song about friendship

  • Created comics on the themes of how abuse can feel in trans relationships 

  • Created a short documentary film at Northern Pride interviewing young people about relationships

  • Created a mock radio phone in – Doctor Becka’s Love Clinic, where the callers rang in to comment and help a young man in an abusive relationship

  • Created a series of cinemagraphs (moving photographs) on the theme of friendship.

  • Run a weekend residential to train young people as peer educators and mentors.

 

Nearly 100 young people took part in 70 sessions, with each session being a minimum of 2 hours  

 

The project also:

  • Set up the LGBTSELFIES.ORG a temporary website that was maintained throughout the project, with basic information for young people about where they could get help if they were experiencing DVA

  • Took part in activities at Northern Pride in the Youth Zone

  • Supported a team of Peer Educators to collect 90 questionnaires at Northern Pride about young people’s experience of DVA 

  • Created a documentary film about friendship and relationships available on Youtube at https://youtu.be/Sn6hgnm8qe8

  • Completed and external evaluation by Dr Eleanor Formby of Sheffield Hallam University. 

 

Feedback for the project from the young people was excellent.  Comments included:

  • “Taking part in the workshop has made me feel more enlightened on the forms of domestic violence and how it works.”  (Questioning pansexual woman age 14)

  • “I’d be more prepared to deal with relationship problems, and to advise on them” (Gay man aged 16)

  • “I feel I should be more considerate about my relationship with my partner” (Gay man aged 16)

  • “As a result of taking part today I can try and be more confident in small groups” (Lesbian aged 14)

  • “Relationship is really up to you, you can have your own ideas and your own friends”  (Lesbian 16)

 

Key Learning Points:

  • Young people often don’t see what they are experiencing as domestic abuse because they don’t live with partners or may not have been in relationships for very long.

  • Working on intimate partner violence with young LGBTQ people is best done when a pre-project on LGBTQI sex and relationships has been completed, as it can feel like the work is being placed on shaky foundations

  • The support of appropriately qualified and committed youth workers is essential to effective work.  The projects that worked best were with groups where youth workers have done some groundwork on sex and relationships before we brought in our workshops.

  • There are particular issues about young people’s use of texting, where behaviour that could be seen as harassment is seen as normal

  • A noticeable number of the young people we worked with saw having a relationship with a significantly older man or woman as an indication of their maturity as an LGBT person, rather than a potentially exploitative relationship.

  • LGBT young people struggle to find examples of same gender relationships that they admire or aspire to.