Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Celebrating LGBT+ youth is a key focus of Bolton Wanderers in the Community.
Bolton Wanderers in the Community’s (BWitC) award winning LGBTQ+ Youth Club in conjunction with Bolton Council’s Youth Service, has been hugely successful in making a difference in the areas of equality, diversity, inclusion and Hate Crime awareness since its launch in May 2018. The LGBTQ+ Youth Club offers a safe space for young people to socialise with friends, meet others they identify with and discuss important topics and issues they may face.
Beth Warriner (Equality Diversity, Inclusion and Cohesion Lead at BWitC) played a key part in setting up and running the weekly Youth Club and is delighted about the positive impact it is making in tackling exclusion and discrimination in the Bolton community.
Speaking to EFL Trust, she said:
“The difference we have made to the individuals who attend the LGBTQ+ Youth Club every week is amazing. Every single person who has been involved has said they have made new friends through attending, some of whom attended on their own initially. We tailor it to ensure that the young people know it is their Youth Club. It’s all about them; they own it, they decide what we do and don’t do – it’s their night. It’s co-designed and gives the young people a real sense of empowerment.”
Beth also believes that the power of the Football Club is vital in tackling areas of Hate Crime, equality, diversity and inclusion in communities.
“The well-known Bolton Wanderers Club badge and the brand of the Football Club is key. We are proud to support national anti-discrimination campaigns each year such as Rainbow Laces and Football vs Homophobia, but we are also able use the attraction of the Bolton Wanderers Football Club brand to reach out to local underrepresented communities and support them directly”.
“In October 2021, our LGBT+ Youth Club participants planned and delivered a Youth Pride event, in partnership with Bolton Octagon Theatre. Over 40 young LGBT+ people and allies attended the event, many of whom we had never engaged with before! We have visited lunchtime and afterschool LGBTQ+ clubs at local Secondary Schools, offering the students and teachers support around LGBTQ+ inclusion, sexual health (through NHS’ local Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Service, The Parallel) and advice on where to seek support online”.
“Our Youth Club participants have also worked together (with support from Greater Manchester Police and Bolton’s Community Safety Team) to create a Hate Crime Awareness training package, which is currently being refined and revamped, to be delivered to young people across Bolton in order to increase knowledge of the importance of recognising and reporting Hate Crime.
One of the LGBTQ+ Youth Club participants, Jaeden, has attended the LGBTQ+ Youth Club since it started in 2018. He became a volunteer and ambassador for the Club, and has recently secured a job with Bolton Youth Service as a Youth Worker. Jaeden said:
“The LGBTQ+ Youth Club has created a comfortable and safe environment, free of judgement, for me to flourish and develop as a person. It’s become a staple in my life and I look forward to it every week”.
Aside from the successful weekly LGBTQ+ Youth Club, BWitC deliver a wide range of inclusive activities and projects to champion cohesion and bring together different communities within Bolton.
BWitC are one of six organisations which make up the locally funded Bolton Unity Project. Along with Bolton Solidarity Community Association, Bolton Christian Community Cohesion, Bolton Interfaith Council, Bolton Council of Mosques and Bolton Hindu Forum, the Bolton Unity Project delivers activities and events which aim to promote and celebrate individuality and diversity across the town. More information on this project, as well as details of their upcoming Bolton Unity Festival on 18th April, can be found at www.Facebook.com/BoltonUnityProject.