In 1997 Lesbian Information Service (LIS), a Todmorden-based national voluntary organisation, was approached by Calderdale Health Promotion to discuss the needs of young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people. ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale, an inter-agency group consisting of LIS, Calderdale Health Promotion Centre, the MSM Project (HIV/AIDS prevention) and Community Education was set up as a result.

Lesbian Information Service successfully acquired funding for a research project. A questionnaire, originally designed by LIS, was adapted and fifteen LGB people, aged 30 years and below who either lived or grew up in Calderdale, were interviewed. Meanwhile, a survey of over 40 agencies was conducted. Click here for further information.

It is important to acknowledge that if Lesbian Information Service hadn't existed, neither would GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale) and in this context it is important to thank Sandra Lucille who jointly set up and jointly ran Lesbian Information Service for ten years.

It was through Lesbian Information Service that we were able to access funding; ACTION and later GALYIC were built on the knowledge and experience gained from running Lesbian Information Service, and in particular LYSIS (Lesbian Youth Support Information Service), a long distance support service for young lesbians. LYSIS supported hundreds of young lesbians around Britain and ran for seven years. In 1992 LYSIS was awarded a bronze certificate as part of the celebrations for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Fortieth Anniversary of Accession:

The findings from the Calderdale research were launched at a one-day seminar attended by approximately 40 individuals/agencies and some of the young people who had taken part in the research; participants identified recommendations. The findings and recommendations were then published as "ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People in Calderdale," and widely distributed.

The research found that LGB young people were a vulnerable group and that very little existed in the way of support for them. In 1999 the researcher, Jan Bridget, along with several of the young people, set up Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale (GALYIC).

Calderdale Youth Service provided a small set up grant, free use of premises and one part-time youth work session for Jan. The group met once a week in Halifax and members drew up a constitution and opened a bank account. The constitution was later developed into the 'Articles and Memorandum' of GALYIC when it became a company limited by guarantee in 2004. The aims and objectives of GALYIC are still much the same as members agreed back in 1999 but with the addition of trans young people. GALYIC acquired charity status in 2005.

Without much funding in the early days there was little room for development so support mainly concentrated on the more vulnerable members of the group. Indeed, we lost one of our original members, Louise, who died from a heroin overdose.

Along came the cavalry in the form of Comic Relief who supported GALYIC for six years (2001-2007). This enabled us to develop our services but concentrating on the 1-1 work whilst two grants from Connexions West Yorkshire meant we could employ Liz North as Project Administrator on a part-time basis. Liz developed sound administrative and financial procedures and helped GALYIC acquire company limited and charity status. Meanwhile, Paula Atherill became the assistant youth worker, a post that was later taken over by Julie Smith until 2008 when Julie got a full-time job in Leeds.

Calderdale Council awarded us a Community Services grant of £9,000 per year (2004-2007) to run the youth group, an award which drew homophobic comments from Tory councillors and the local media. The Council grant was later increased to £20,000 per year (2007-2012).

In 2006 we had enough funding to employ James Field on a half-time basis for a year. James was able to bring in extra money for projects, residential work and to develop an exciting programme of activities for the youth group. Because of lack of funding we were unable to keep James and he went down to working one session a week and then left GALYIC for a full-time post in London.

From 2007-2008 we had to tighten our belt and Jan took over running the youth group and drop-in again. We were successful in a consortium bid for Vinvolved funding and from April 2008 were awarded £9,000 a year for three years to develop volunteering opportunities.

Also in 2008 we received a grant of £15,000 p.a. for three years from Lloyds/TSB to help towards core costs. This meant that in September 2008 we were able to recruit two new part-time members of staff, Moni Noszkay as the Senior Youth Worker and Debbie Clements as assistant youth worker. We had hoped that we would have enough funding to increase Moni's hours to half time but this was not to be and in March 2009 Moni resigned.

In May 2009 we learnt we had been successful in our application to BBC Children in Need, and we recruited our new Crisis Intervention and Support Worker, Helen Whitehouse who began work in October 2009. In the same month, the Calderdale Youth Offending Team seconded Kellie Bond to GALYIC for one day a week for six months, whilst Debbie left at the end of the year.

Another significant event in 2009 was the launch of our report "Ten Years on: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Young People in Calderdale". The report includes the findings of interviews with 50 members using the GALYIC Needs Assessment Tool (NAT). We were able to compare the findings with the original research of 1998.

In many respects, there is little change in the situation facing LGBT young people; they are still isolated; they are still experiencing homophobic abuse in school and on the streets, although there appears to be a slight rise in this; they are still experiencing homelessness and using substances as a way of coping, although again there appears to be a rise in the level of substance use. They are still experiencing rape and sexual abuse, although the levels of sexual abuse are higher. There is still little positive information in schools about homosexuality, although teachers appear to be more supportive.

The four significant differences between the two groups are that the 2008 group are coming out at a younger age; they are experiencing more parental rejection/non-acceptance; and self-harm and attempted suicides are a lot higher.

In response to this, as from January 2010 the age range for the youth group, drop-in, forum, and other activities such as the annual residential, go-karting, etc., was lowered to LGBT young people aged up to 21 years.

The data also suggested that the majority of children and young people's services in Calderdale were still not meeting the needs of LGBT young people.

Our members presented the findings to various services, strategic partnerships and political groups.

Gradually, many of the high schools in Calderdale began to refer young people to GALYIC. In response to this we worked with Calderdale Council (Safeguarding) to develop a flyer aimed at encouraging teachers to support LGBT young people who come out in school.

In June 2010 the GALYIC office moved to the historic Hebden Bridge Town Hall. On 18th August 2010 the GALYIC flag was flown over Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

In 2011 our funding from Vinvolved and Lloyds/TSB ran out. With the core funding from Calderdale Council about to run out in March 2012 and no guarantee of further monies from Calderdale, the GALYIC Board decided to wind up GALYIC as a company limited by guarantee and a charity; services ceased on 30th November 2011.

For an idea of the kind of services GALYIC developed over twelve years, click here.

On 23rd May 2012, Jan Bridget was awarded Calderdale Citizenship of the Year for her work with Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale:

Here is a pre-recorded version of Jan's acceptance speech.