A local volunteer is looking to make Telford a more friendly place to be for LGBT+ people with a new peer support group
By Kevin Tanner – Founder of Telford LGBT+
What were you doing on the 7th November 2017?
Chances are you missed a very special event quietly happening in Wellington. For the first time for years, if not decades, Telford now has had its own LGBT+ group and 20 people turned up to the very first meeting – showing exactly how wanted the group was.
The Telford LGBT+ group was an idea I have had since February this year after attending a LGBT history month event in Shrewsbury. They have a thriving LGBT+ scene, with monthly meetings and various groups and newsletters.
I came out as gay only a few years ago and saw nothing in Telford for people like myself to chat, socialise, and help each other. I started this group to fill that gap so that others in Telford don’t feel isolated and realise that it can be an inclusive place to live if you’re LGBT+.
I’ve had a lot of support from Telford & Wrekin Council. Councillor Rae Evans, and Katy Driver from the community support team, have given me advice on what to do, how to apply for grants, and so much encouragement.
For the first meeting, Katy brought along activity materials, took notes, and even provided tea and coffee, which was very welcome a cold and wet November evening!
The first night was such a surprise! I was honestly expecting no one to turn up but we had 15-20 people there of all ages. From teenagers, to those who have retired.
Because it was our first meeting it was just about saying hello and getting to know each other. I explained to everyone that I had organised the group and the first meeting due to a lack of any support or social groups for LGBT+ in the Telford area. I really just wanted to know if there was a need for such a group and what people would want from it.
At our first meeting, I heard stories of such openness that it took my breath away. It made me so happy that people were so comfortable to share their feelings and experiences with total strangers. As we all chatted that evening it became clear that we all wanted a social group, just somewhere to meet for a cuppa or a drink.
We also realised that together, we would work as a peer support group. We could be there for people who want to talk about their experiences and reassure each other that none of us is alone.
As the group grows we plan to invite guest speakers, link in with larger national groups such as Stonewall, and to encourage them to hold events for LGBT+ people and allies in Telford.
Hopefully we could one day host a Telford Pride!
I have rambled on for long enough now. It’s difficult to know when to stop when you are filled with so much enthusiasm. Everything I have experienced since our first meeting has made me so much more convinced that we’re on the right track. I hope more people will make it to our second meeting.
Join us at our next meeting
Our next meeting is now fixed for the 5th December 7pm at Wellington library.
Feel free to get in touch.