One week left to apply for The Change Something Fund
Young people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area have until 7th November 2018 to apply to The Change Something Fund.
A total of £100,000 is available through grants of £200 to £3000 for young people aged 13 -24 living who want to change something in their community. The programme is being managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund and is funded by Big Lottery Fund and Derry and Strabane District Council.
The Change Something Fund is supporting young people like Xavier Beardwood (17) from Derry/Londonderry who want to make a real change to their communities. Xavier is transgender and after struggling to feel accepted at school he is working with OUTNorth West to change things so that members of the LGBTQ+ community will be understood by the wider community.
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer and Questioning and the + sign is other identities – such as intersex and non-binary.
Xavier is sharing his experiences to encourage other young people to apply for funding to make a difference in their community.
Xavier said: “I was 12 years old when I first came out. I changed my gender from female to male and changed my name to Xavier. It took me a long time to get the confidence to do that and it was really hard to tell my family but they have been very supportive. I feel I can be myself now, which is definitely less stressful.
“I used to go to an all-girls school but I was always different, I wasn’t girly like the rest of them. Some people assumed I was a lesbian and they made transphobic and homophobic comments to me. I never felt comfortable there, I didn’t even feel like I could talk to the teachers about the way I was feeling.
“I moved to a new school to do my A Levels. They were really welcoming and understanding, they call me by my new name and let me wear trousers – it’s been a brilliant change for me.”
Xavier found support outside of school through the Rainbow Health project. He joined their youth group four years ago and he’s now on the management committee for their OUT North West project. Last year the project received almost £500,000 of money raised by National Lottery players from Big Lottery Fund.
“It’s been great being part of Rainbow Health project where everyone accepts me for who I am and they understand the difficulties I’ve gone through. In OUTNorth West I’m working with other young people to change people’s attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, particularly in education, community and healthcare services where many of us have had bad experiences.
“I think it is important to change attitudes and make schools, colleges, GP surgeries and other places more inclusive and supportive towards LGBT people. This can be done by simply giving the correct advice. There is a lot of information available online, but people can get a lot of misconceptions from online resources – especially social media.
“I want to use my own experiences to help create an informative resource that will provide answers for the more difficult questions people may ask, such as questions about surgery or the legalities of changing your name and your gender, as well as bring attention to the lesser known identities within the LGBTQ+ community (such as intersexual, pansexual, asexual and aromantic).
“We have the information we need and we are now deciding what format it will be in. I’m really excited to see the end product.
“I would tell other young people that you don’t have to ‘put up with’ anything that bothers you – you deserve better and have the power to change something.”
Young people interested in applying for funding will need the support of a host organisation like a community group, a school or a club.
Panels of young people living in the local area will then decide which projects are successful.
For more information and to apply visit https://www.communityfoundationni.org/change-something-fund