20th Anniversary Somerset Stories: 2BU

This year 2BU Somerset celebrates 20 years of promoting the wellbeing and positive mental health of young people who identify as LGBTQ+. Chief Executive Lisa Snowdon-Carr explains how Somerset Community Foundation supports their vital work in the community.

“We want LGBTQ+ young people to feel it’s OK to be you in Somerset. LGBTQ+ people, like anyone else, need acceptance, support and a sense of belonging. Historically many LGBTQ+ people have faced discrimination, prejudice and marginalization due to their gender, sexual orientation and relationship diversity. We believe no young person should fail to reach their potential because of their identity, or be left isolated, misunderstood and confused.

Young people holding each other's hands over a rainbow flag. they are wearing OK 2BU wristbandsCreating a sense of community and belonging is essential for positive wellbeing. We believe everyone plays a part supporting each other. Driven by young people, peer support and the fabulous 2BU team, no one is left behind. We truly value the allyship and community of parents and professionals we work with. We couldn’t do what we do without the strength we feel as a team and the relationships we’ve built over the last 20 years.

Funding from Somerset Community Foundation helped us create many additional occasions of loveliness for the young people we support. Through Covid-19, the funding helped us reach more young people and helped us learn together as a charity. A big part of that was learning to work online – which we have continued. We have digital groups for young people where travel can be difficult, and offer the choice of meeting in-person or online. Everything we learned, and the online infrastructure we put in place, came from Somerset Community Foundation funding.

Our services are led by young people and rooted in the principles of youth work. We aim to provide safe spaces where young people feel understood, can build friendships and make memories with others who share similar experiences. Young people decide the best way for them to get support. This can range from one-to-one conversations, attending support groups, accessing peer support or volunteering at community events. Our festive activities funded by Somerset Community Foundation are a great example of bringing our community together to celebrate LGBTQ+ young people.

Our dedicated team create opportunities for young people to talk about their experiences, make sense of issues they’re facing and celebrate diversity with LGBTQ+ young people. This brings solidarity and shared joy.

The perfect future for 2BU would be where people didn’t need us – how lovely would that be?

But in reality, there will always be LGBTQ+ young people who will benefit from a support service like ours. We aspire to be sustainable, resilient and visible in Somerset – providing a trusted and respected countywide service supporting young people to say: “It’s OK 2BU here.” We’re proud of our reputation: we’ve been going for 20 years and there’s no reason we can’t go for 20 more.”

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