06 November 2019

A safe and supportive working environment and feeling safe in our neighbourhood are two of the conditions that affect our health. Proud2Be are providing vital support for the LGBTQ+ community and their families in parts of South Devon and raising awareness of LGBTQ+ rights.

“There can be a misconception that LGBTQ+ people don’t exist in rural areas which is why it is so important to increase visibility in the community and show our diversity, creativity and talent.

Growing up in a village, my twin Max and I started Proud2Be when we moved to South Devon, because we wanted to connect with people and offer them something we didn’t have as young people.

All of the activities bring the community together for support and tackle the issues which they face including discrimination and social isolation. Without support from the Trust, we wouldn’t be able to put all of our activities on for free which is so important because we have many people from different backgrounds who are sometimes on low incomes.

Many of our members have faced discrimination so the main part of our work has been about raising awareness within the community. Quite often that kind of behaviour can be normalised so it has been about building confidence for people to say ‘this behaviour is not acceptable and I want to do something about it’.

It’s been incredible to watch people’s confidence around socialising grow and see them starting to trust other people. It has to be wider than that though – of course we want members to feel safe within the group but we also want them to build their confidence in the wider community and thrive in everyday life.

Our volunteer programme encourages people to really get involved and be part of the change. That’s where we have seen the biggest successes, seeing people go on to become activists and organise campaigns in their school or college.

"Being involved with Proud2Be has literally changed my life in the most positive and inspiring way. It’s a safe space where, for the first time in my life, I could actually be myself.

I have gained confidence, met some wonderfully supportive friends and no longer feel isolated and alone."

Ange Hoey, project member and volunteer

Members of Proud2Be 

The pinnacle of our year is Totnes Pride, which we organise as a group annually. We wanted to make it very rooted in the community and focus on why Pride started in the first place. Totnes Pride is a real grassroots community day that everyone gets involved in, from making decorations to putting on workshops. 

It’s a time to celebrate the diversity of our community and also raise awareness of the challenges the LGBTQ+ community face. 

You can feel incredibly alone and invisible in rural areas but the project is like a family for us, somewhere for us to support each other and feel safe.

Watching the youth group, seeing how they treat each other and exist in this world gives me hope for the future because it feels better and more inclusive.”

Maya Price, co-founder, Proud2Be

Proud2Be were awarded £31,080 for their ‘Rural Outreach Project, which is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised through Health Lottery South West.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2019 Annual Review. To read it in full, click here.

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