RainbowYOUTH has opened a drop-in centre for LGBTIQ youth in Tauranga, marking a historic first for the 29 year old organisation.

RainbowYOUTH Tauranga

The drop-in centre, located in the Historic Village, represents a culmination of RainbowYOUTH’s work in the Bay of Plenty region beginning in 2014 with the creation of the peer-support group ‘TaurangaPryde’. The success of this group, which has seen growing numbers of young people attend has led to RainbowYOUTH being able to employ a Regional Coordinator for Bay of Plenty in October of 2016 through funding from MSD and the Bay Trust, amongst others.

“The interest in the TaurangaPryde group exceeded all our expectations. While RainbowYOUTH provides resources, training and oversight to support the group, its success is due to the dedicated young people in Tauranga who come together each week to provide this safe, informative and fun space for each other” says RainbowYOUTH’s Executive Director, Duncan Matthews.

Nathan Bramwell as the RainbowYOUTH Regional Coordinator for Bay of Plenty has worked over the past year to build connections with existing youth services and help equip the wider communities with tools to competently address the unique needs of LGBTIQ youth.

“It is super exciting seeing the youth in Tauranga being able to create a space of their own,” Bramwell says. “Not only is the space one where they can be social and have pride in their identities, it shows the support and welcome of the wider youth services and networks we have fostered, giving holistic empowerment and a sense of belonging back to the youth.”

The new centre, located in the Historic Village will be open during select weekdays for the public to drop-in to enjoy a safe space that celebrates LGBTIQ identities, as well as access to a range of resources, free wifi, information and tea and coffee.

Sixteen-year-old TaurangaPryde facilitator Kane MacFarlane hopes the opening of the new drop-in centre will help “…the community to embrace us. It will also be great place for schools and services to refer too if they have a questioning young person.

It will be a place young people can go and be themselves and make a community. When a questioning young person is trying to figure out where to go in Tauranga, our space will be waiting and accepting,” MacFarlane says.

The RainbowYOUTH Tauranga drop-in centre is located at Complex 1, Historic Village, 159 Seventeenth Avenue West. For more information, visit www.ry.org.nz/tauranga

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