After four years of success, myself and the board of directors know that it’s important to make sure Blossom LGBT is future proof & has a clear directional vision.
We want to ensure that we channel our energy in the correct direction, appropriately support our members, and be clear of our place within the wider LGBTQ+ third sector.
We enter 2023 with ambitious plans. To grow, to thrive, and truly make long lasting change for those we work with. This includes a mission to expand our weekly and monthly groups and to build stronger foundations for the future of our service by making our weekend gays jobs into full time day jobs.
We believe that everyone who engages in our work has a right to understand what we’re working towards and why we’re doing it, that’s why we’re publicly sharing our new strategy.
We will continue to review the work we do regularly ensure it’s creating equitable and powerful outcomes. Amongst other things, I’m particularly keen to focus on engaging more with Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, and other Minority Ethnic communities in the years to come.
This is an exciting time for Blossom and I’m glad you’re joining us on this journey!
Oscar T Hoyle
We begin our strategy by defining who we are as an organisation. These act as operational anchors which we consistently draw back to allowing us to ensure that the work we do is right and aligns with our organisationals purpose!
We support the amazing things that LGBTQ+ people can achieve when they are empowered to succeed without the fear of discrimination.
Together, we’ll create environments where LGBTQ+ young adults can succeed in all aspects of their social and professional lives.
LGBTQ+ young adults, often aged between 16 to 30, based in South East England and the people who live & work alongside them.
Blossom began in 2019 being run from the living rooms of inspired volunteers who wanted to change the way young LGBTQ+ people connected. Quickly we discovered the huge need for supportive spaces for LGBTQ+ young adults. By 2021 Blossom had registered as a community interest company and made a name for itself as a progressive and forward-thinking community-led organisation.
Today Blossom is Surrey’s largest LGBTQ+ not for profit boasting an impressive team of 6 paid employees and a passionate team of over 20 volunteers.
Before working with Blossom our members tell us that they felt confused, isolated, and withdrawn. We empower them to blossom… into beautiful & confident people. This allows our members to find true happiness and gives them the power to build sturdy careers, meaningful relationships, and pride in who they are.
Every day we make decisions that have an impact on Blossom and our community. Our values represent our shared principles across everything we do. We use these to justify decision making, outline our ways of working, and deciding who we work with.
We are kind-hearted and respectful of others. We know the people we work with are on learning journeys and continue to empower them.
We are proud of who we are. We understand & celebrate the strength that it takes to be an authentic individual.
We are change-makers and believe in taking action for a stronger community.
We are powerful when acting as one strong community. We operate with each other's interests and needs in mind.
We know the power of providing spaces for LGBTQ+ people to build support networks and connect with each other.
We’re actively creating spaces for LGBTQ+ young adults to express their identity in a positive and constructive way.
Throughout everything we do; we’re going to ensure that we support LGBTQ+ young adults during their journey with us to bloom into authentic, successful, and prosperous people. We’ll celebrate & platform these success stories.
Our social groups provide a peer-to-peer LGBTQ+ space to create community, have fun, and make meaningful connections. Historically referred to as ‘The Woking Social Group’ this group will now focus on wellbeing alongside peer-to-peer support.
Research by LGBT Hero in 2020 found that 56% of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced loneliness “very often” or “every day”. We know that experiencing isolation can increase the risk of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideology. Isolation can also cause increased stress, poor self esteem, and can lead to individuals making risky decisions which can cause them considerable harm.
LGBTQ+ people are considerably more likely to experience isolation due to the fear of discrimination with Stonewall research finding that one in five LGBTQ+ people have experienced a hate incident in the last year. This rises to two in five trans people. Building peer-to-peer support networks can considerably reduce feelings of isolation whilst also equipping LGBTQ+ people to cope with the fear of discrimination.
There is a clear demand and need for our LGBTQ+ social space in Woking and we’ll continue to deliver this group. The group should remain free & open access but we should consider how people can support our work financially should they wish to do so.
The social space feedback has highlighted a significant need to focus on wellbeing & coping and as such part of the future delivery of this service will be to focus on building the resilience and wellbeing of our service users.
To build on our existing foundations we need to consider ways to delegate responsibility for the daily operations of our social spaces to ensure its operation isn’t reliant on company directors. The group requires additional promotion which we should consider via higher education establishments & social media marketing. We plan to scope the expansion of these spaces into areas of Surrey currently not catered for by the wider LGBTQ+ sector.
We also should consider increasing the maximum service user age from 25 towards 30. This not only fills a gap in local service provision, but is reactive to service user feedback and helps with the groups target market.
A mentoring, education, and internship programme empowering young LGBTQ+ adults to improve confidence and up-skill leading to them accessing longer lasting & meaningful employment.
Research by CIPD found that 60% of graduates who where formally out as LGBTQ+ within education refrain from disclosing their true identity when starting work. Further research by OECD in 2019 found LGBTQ+ people are under represented in employment by 7% rising to 24% of trans women. LGBTQ+ people are also 11% less likely to hold higher management level jobs with trans men being 23% less likely.
Although discrimination plays a significant role, it’s evident through our work with LGBTQ+ young adults that the damage caused to confidence & wellbeing results in long lasting absences from employment, education, and training.
The initial framework of this service has been proposed to funders on a two year pilot programme and we expect to hear back in May 2023 regarding the success of this proposal.
The management of this service will be required to build a series of workshops and classes designed to support LGBTQ+ young adults to develop the skills required to enter the workplace. They’ll need to create a system for monitoring success and ensuring the mentees don’t develop a dependence on our services.
It’s important that we use our existing relationships with the LGBTQ+ sector, the wider third sector, and LGBTQ+ inclusive businesses to ensure those we place on internships have an equitable and positive experience. There is scope to offer this as an in-house support service to employers to generate income.
We work with businesses, employees, and volunteer teams to create environments within the workplace where LGBTQ+ young adults can prosper.
On average LGBTQ+ people earn 4% less than non-LGBTQ+ people meaning the average LGBTQ+ person misses out on over £53,712 in their lifetime. Although LGB Women on average earn 5% more than their heterosexual counterparts, trans women earn up to 11% less (OECD – 2019). Over 57% of LGBTQ+ people who are currently in work have left their previous employment as a result of the workplace failing to create an inclusive environment for them.
According to the most recent census data, 18 to 24 years olds are twice as likely to identify as LGBTQ+ compared to older generations. This is why our training stands out from the crowd. We work with our LGBTQ+ service users who are preparing to enter the workplace to ensure our work speaks to them and creates the workplace cultures that they’d want to work within. We understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ people who are at the start of their professional lives and know what businesses can do to support them.
We know that those who purchase our training enjoy what we offer with almost 100% of businesses who purchase a package from Blossom rating it ‘excellent’. We need to foster a more focused approach to our training packages to ensure they fit within our purpose & benefit from our unique expertise. Regardless of it’s audience, our training should focus creating environments where LGBTQ+ young adults can succeed.
We should explore the audiences of packages to ensure we offer targeted and affordable packages to businesses, educational institutions, and public & third sector service practitioners.
A safe space to equip and empower parents and guardians in supporting and advocating for their LGBTQ+ relations.
A poll by Stonewall found that LGBTQ+ people over the age of 60 had come out at an average age of 37, but those aged 30 or younger had come out at an average age of 21. As attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people improves it’s expected this will continue to get lower. 85% of the British public say they would be supportive if their child, sibling or close family member came out as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and 71% would be supportive if they came out as a transgender or non-binary. Less than half would feel confident that they knew how to provide the support. (Data by YouGov). This data suggests that a need for support services for parents and guardians is required and due to our target market, we’re best placed to provide this.
When seeking feedback regarding our current service provision, our parent & guardian support group has been referred to as having a “negative” atmosphere which “focuses too much on hardship”. There are three other similar groups operated within Surrey with better feedback.
Understanding what’s already available within Surrey, there is very little need for us to continue running a support group for parent and guardians in Woking. However, it is apparent that those who do use our current services seem to have young people with high needs and therefore it’s vital they are not excluded.
We believe a one to one parent & guardian mentoring scheme with the goal of supporting mentees to empower and advocate for their LGBTQ+ loved ones seems more appropriate and in line with our broader vision. It’s important this compliments the services already being provided by other groups. Due to the time & resource required, this should be operated on a tiered pricing structure based on income rather than for free.
Our workshops focus on growing, nurturing and empowering local creative talent whilst building the LGBTQ+ communities pride in its own heritage.
Research, carried out by members of the Creative Freelancers found that only 2% of freelancers living in South East England are able to attain economic independence through creative jobs. Despite queer creatives being over represented within the arts the study found heterosexual, cisgender, white British, upper or middle class individuals were the only demographic able to attain economic freedom within the creative industry. Two thirds of those being men over 50. This is why a programme empowering queer artists to consider creative practices as a career path, and the wider LGBTQ+ community to explore their own creative practices is vital.
The importance of mindfulness and expressive outlets cannot be understated. 2018 research by Stonewall found that over half of LGBTIQ+ people had experienced depression, and three in five had experienced anxiety with one in eight LGBTIQ+ people aged 18 to 24 had attempted to end their life. Ensuring the community has positive and constructive ways to express their feelings is a key way we can improve on LGBTQ+ wellbeing before it becomes an issue.
Our LGBTQ+ visual arts workshops continues to be our most popular service provision. It’s important that we listen to feedback rom service users who would like to see a more targeted and themed approach and we should strongly consider the power heritage plays within queer arts.
Our performing arts workshop requires additional attention with a new venue, better promotional materials, and additional funding being needed urgently. It’s important that we formalise our support for newly established queer artists through a scheme that focuses on business acumen, workshop delivery, and building confidence.
Blossom LGBT CIC requires core functionality improvements to truly thrive and to deal with the significant increases in investments that we are planning to secure. In short, these are:
Blossom LGBT CIC is a not for profit organisation operating in Surrey | We're registered as a community interest company registered in England | Company Number 13447658 |
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