A NEW LGBT youth group has won funding to support youngsters in Swindon.

To celebrate International Coming Out Day last week, the supported housing provider Stonewater launched Out of the Can+, a group providing support and advice on the challenges of growing up to people aged 13 to 19.

The newly-improved network, which started as Out of the Can in 2004, is the result of a partnership between Stonewater and the Diversity Trust.

It will provide monthly social education activities and support from its new community hub using a £19,980 grant from Stonewater’s charitable arm, the Stoneleigh Foundation.

Jo Sharpe at Out of the Can+ said: “We're very excited to be working in association with Stonewater and the Diversity Trust, since our first meeting together there has been a positive vibe.

“This association will help us secure and deliver the youth club provision for the next three years in Swindon, and allow expansion so we can deliver a monthly Saturday session, to reach out further to isolated LGBTQ+ young people within Wiltshire.”

Berkeley Wilde, director at the Diversity Trust , says: “We are really pleased to be able to support this work in Swindon. This group builds on our expertise in LGBTQ youth work developed in other areas including Bristol and South Gloucestershire, where we run Alphabets LGBTQ youth project.

“Our partnership with Stonewater and Out of the Can+ will bring sustainability to the great youth work happening in Swindon.”

Stonewater manages seven supported living schemes across Swindon to support homeless young people and those with mental health. Out of the Can + will meet at the Swindon Foyer on Bath Road.

“We are so excited to be involved in this group, which will provide an essential and supportive space for young people in Swindon,” says Guy Stenson, Stonewater’s director of housing strategy & transformation.

“Despite increased rights for people who identify as LGBTQ+, the rate of homophobic and biphobic hate crimes increased from nine per cent in 2013 to 16 per cent in 2017.

“At the same time, seven per cent of LGBT people do not feel safe in the area where they live, and this increases to an alarming 14 per cent for trans people.

“Statistics also indicate that 24 per cent of young people accessing homelessness support services – such as our young peoples’ Foyers - identify as LGBTQ+2. This significant figure shows how important it is to provide a safe space where LGBTQ young people can meet others and find the confidence to be themselves.”

Out of the Can+ will employ one member of staff and also provide placements for volunteers looking to gain work experience. Four Stonewater employees will also work at the service.