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15 Years Of BeLonG To

Since the doors of BeLonG To opened in 2003, it had always been envisioned as an advocacy youth service. As founder Michael Barron pointed out, “it’s important to note that BeLonG To was never set up to be a youth group. In one way it was set up with the purpose of providing a safe space for LGBT young people, but it always had an activist and advocacy mandate as well. From the very beginning, the idea was that we’d support LGBT young people in where they’re at, but that we would also work with them in advocating for systemic change”.

So how did such a visionary and unusual model come into being? It started out in 1999, when Barron was working with Focus Ireland as a key worker. He recalled, “I was out as a gay member of staff. Because of that when LGBT young people would come in I’d become their key worker. One of the things that became apparent really quickly was that there was no service specifically to support them. And there was a disproportionate number of young people who were homeless and LGBT.”

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