Since 1999, Allsorts Youth Project has been listening to, supporting and connecting children and young people across West Sussex who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT+) or unsure of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

The charity’s services include youth groups in Worthing, Chichester and Horsham, one-to-one support, in-schools emotional support, and advocacy services in multiple locations, offering free services that reach remote areas of the county and enable young people to access specialist LGBT+ support previously unavailable to them.

In September 2019, 82% of Allsorts young people in West Sussex reported that they had experienced mental health problems, with 90% of young people reporting that Allsorts & Talk It Out; one-to-one service had been of particular help to them.

As one young person puts it, “Allsorts has been a huge turning point in my life. It has helped to bring me out of a dark place and to see brightness in the future.”

2019 saw the Allsorts West Sussex project develop further with the delivery of its third group, in Worthing. Furthermore, Allsorts has launched an LGBT+ Children and Young People’s Advocacy Service in Worthing, lifting the voices of young people, empowering them in difficult times, and ensuring their rights are upheld.

More recently, Allsorts unveiled a pilot schools program delivering one-to-one support, awareness and visibility in schools and colleges across the county, funded by the West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (NHS) in partnership with West Sussex County Council.

Evidence suggests that this kind of support reduces isolation, a major issue faced by LGBT+ children and young people, and improves mental health and wellbeing. As Allsorts Horsham Youth president Fynn puts it, “Allsorts is like a second family to me. I have met so many people there and the project has helped me to grow as a person, build up a support network and feel more able to tackle challenges that I previously wouldn’t have. Every young person should have easy access to a service the same or similar to Allsorts.”

Q&A with Allsorts Worthing Youth Presidents

We spoke to Allsorts Youth Project’s Worthing Youth President (Lucy) about the expansion of Allsorts into more rural areas of West Sussex.

What do you think are the advantages of Allsorts expansion into Worthing, and its surrounding rural areas in West Sussex?
Lucy: “Outreach! It’s so important to have proper support available to LGBTU young people, wherever they live! I volunteer at the 11-15s group, and attend the over 16s as a service user. I have seen first hand what an amazing impact this project has had on young people in Worthing. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this new expansion into West Sussex has saved lives.”

How has being able to access Allsorts services more locally affected you?
Lucy: “Growing up in and around Worthing, there was little to no support for mental health, poor sex education, and no talk at all about LGBTQ people, except as the butt of a joke. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia were all commonplace. Now that Allsorts is here, I can be listened to, and have a space to relax. I hope that, with the training and services provided by Allsorts, there can be more safe spaces, better emotional support, and just generally acceptance in schools and workplaces across West Sussex. Worthing is changing, and that gives me hope for the future!”

What does Allsorts Youth Project mean to you?
Lucy: “Home. I don’t have to pretend to be anything or anyone. I can just be, and that is so incredibly healing. In the 3 years I’ve been attending groups and one-to-one support sessions, I’ve become more confident, self assured, and hopeful in my mindset. Allsorts is magical, and I hope the service can run for many, many more years to come!”

For more information, get in touch at westsussex@allsortsyouth.org.uk or visit allsortsyouth.org.uk