Bolton Wanderers Community Trust’s (BWCT’s) 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 hate crime, equality, diversity and inclusion 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, Senior Development Officer for Youth Engagement at BWCT, plays a key part in the weekly running of the Youth Club and is delighted about the positive impact it is making in tackling exclusion in the Bolton community.
Speaking to EFL Trust, she said: “The difference we have made to the 15+ people who attend the LGBTQ+ Youth Club is amazing. Every single person who has been involved has said they have made new friends.
“We tailor it to be ‘the young people’s’ Youth Club. It’s all about them, they own it and 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. Campaigns like Rainbow Laces and Football v Homophobia reach out to thousands of people every year.
“During the Bolton Wanderers vs AFC Wimbledon Rainbow Laces fixture on 7th December, there will be a section in the matchday programme about our LGBT Youth Club and the group will also have their own executive box for the game!”
The young people in the LGBTQ+ Youth Club have also worked together to create a Hate Crime Awareness training programme with Bolton Pride, which over the coming months, will be delivered to young people across Bolton in order to increase knowledge of what hate crime is and how to report it.
Beth continued: “The fact that those in the group are at the forefront of the hate crime training is going to make a huge difference – they decide what is relevant and can share their experiences to really inspire others.”
Jaeden, a member of the LGBTQ+ Youth Club 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".
The work of BWCT in the areas of diversity and inclusion was also recognised at the 2019 Bolton Pride Diversity Awards, as the Trust picked up 4 awards out of the 6 categories they were nominated in.
Beth added: “It’s amazing to see how far we have come since the launch of the LGBTQ+ Youth Club and to be recognised.
“Last year we weren’t nominated at the Bolton Pride Diversity Awards at all so to be nominated 6 times and claim 4 awards this year is phenomenal.
“The highlight of the night was having one of our LGBTQ+ Youth Club participants win the Youth Diversity Award…that’s exactly what this work is all about – giving young people a voice.
“If you give young people confidence, empowerment and a sense of belonging, they’ll only go forwards and reach their full potential.
“To put it simply, they are the future and the leaders of tomorrow. It’s so important that they feel accepted to be who they are.”
Bolton Wanderers will hold their Rainbow Laces fixture on Saturday 7 December when they face AFC Wimbledon in Sky Bet League One.
Rainbow corner flags, substitution board stickers and a club pennant will all be used, as well as Captain’s armbands and rainbow laces for players.