#youthWISE: free service for young LGBTQI+ people in Wood Green

February 26, 2020

Image from WiseThoughts website

Angela Mascolo reports on charity WiseThoughts’ work with queer young people in Haringey

The BAME LGBTQI+ charity WiseThoughts based at Wood Green Library has received funding to create a free drop-in called #youthWISE, for people aged 11-19.

Founded in 1999, WiseThoughts works with LGBTQI+ and BAME artists, filmmakers and practitioners to organise multidisciplinary arts events and creative projects.

WiseThoughts runs regular drop-in sessions for a range of groups including #womxnWISE for lesbian, bi and trans womxn (this is a term that’s used to include trans and non-binary women) and #WISEwomen for women and girls experiencing, or who have experienced, violence.

#youthWISE drop-ins help young queer people experiencing isolation through mental health support and community building

I spoke to Izzy and Keifer, who have been running #youthWISE, to find out more about what happens at the drop-ins.

Keifer and Izzy outside WiseThoughts office

“The #youthWISE drop-ins help young queer people experiencing isolation through mental health support, community building and creative, business-related and educational workshops,” says Izzy.

Keifer, a former Exposure contributor, used to be involved with OutZone London, an LGBT youth project for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people.

However, since OutZone closed in 2011, there were no similar youth groups in Haringey supporting young LGBTQI+ people.

#youthWISE is a vital addition to the local community. Not only does it help young queer people facing isolation to meet each other, it’s also “important for inspiring them to pursue jobs around their identity,” explains Izzy.

In a recent drop-in session, a mother learnt more about her daughter’s identity, which helped them bond

The #youthWISE drop-ins have been running since January 2020, and Izzy and Keifer say that young people “have really enjoyed the sessions.”

“A lot of the young people have never experienced similar sessions. Activities are very flexible and are based around what young people want,” says Izzy.

Offering free food and snacks, the drop-ins support young people to socialise and provide interactive arts activities such as theatre workshops. Young people use different art forms to express their emotions through art.

One of the challenges Izzy and Keifer face is reaching young people in schools and colleges who don’t have supportive parents.

In a recent drop-in session, a mother learnt more about her daughter’s identity, which helped them bond.

If you want to support #youthWISE’s important work, please consider donating here, and promoting the service to young queer people.

Angela Mascolo has been working with Exposure for six years. She recently graduated from Royal Holloway with a first-class degree, where she studied History.

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