ja lyons2


Julie Ann Lyons, Youth and Community Development Officer, LGBT Youth Scotland

How long have you been in post?
Just over 9 years.

Which geographical area do you cover?
Across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway...have car, will travel! 

Tell me about your role and day to day duties and responsibilities.
Day to day can be very different. I can be talking to and supporting young people aged 13-25 years old around sexual identity and/or gender identity. This can be in the form of one to one support in our office, in schools, in their own local area, online, on the phone or by text...whichever feels best for the young person.

We have weekly youth groups at the office here in Dumfries. On Tuesday evening the Phoenix Group (13-17 year olds) meets from 6-8pm and on Thursdays, the Up “N” Oot Group (18-25 year olds) meets from 7-9pm. These groups are led by sessional staff and I cover as required. Once a month our gender group “Spectrum” (for 13-25 year olds) meets. This is on the first Saturday of the month from 1-3pm. They explore all aspects of gender.

I also do awareness raising sessions in schools and community groups across Dumfries and Galloway. I am involved with leading in the schools on interactive awareness raising sessions to increase people’s knowledge of LGBTI identities. We challenge discrimination and encourage inclusion in a fun and interactive way. We inform young people on legislation around equality. This includes the Equality Act and Hate Crime Legislation.

We provide some outreach services at Freshers’ Fairs or Community Fun Days. We raise awareness of our organisation and make LGBTI identities visible.

Some schools request information around sexualities and Transgender identities or sometimes parents or the young people themselves request our input.

I am involved in our LGBTYS Schools Charter Mark where I provide support to schools that are signed up and working towards their Award. The LGBTYS schools charter involves training for school staff around LGBTI identities. It encourages schools to include LGBTI identities throughout the curriculum, also encouraging schools to update policies and procedures to ensure they are inclusive of LGBTI identities. There is also a Charter Mark award available for organisations.

More info can be found on our national website: https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/charter

What motivates you most about your job?
Seeing the difference that it makes just by being there to support young people and letting them know they are supported and they do have rights. I encourage young people to be themselves and use their voice thereby empowering them.
What has given you most satisfaction at work recently?
There is such variety in the job from engaging with young people, their families, other professionals and partners. Every day is a school day and it keeps it current.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Capacity can be quite tight as there is only my manager and myself who work full time covering the whole of the region. However we are blessed to have 2 great sessional members of staff and currently 5 amazing volunteers.
Capacity building around awareness sessions empowers other professionals to feel more confident in supporting and including LGBTI identities and they, in turn, become more knowledgeable.

What have you done previously (in terms of jobs and skills) which supports you in your current work?
I was a Youth Worker for the Council in Wigtownshire.
I was a full time supervisor of a child day care centre in Wigtownshire.
I was a waitress at weekends.
Having worked with people of all age groups means I have the communication skills to approach young people. I am a patient person and I gained useful training through my youth work. I have the motivation to support young people to make a change. Over the years I have developed my own skills, voice and confidence within the sector. I have networked with partners and other professionals through my role.

How long have you been involved with SHAP?
9 years.

What do you consider to be the benefits of being a member of SHAP?
I have attended some of the meetings when possible. Being a member provides opportunities for networking and sharing information through SHAP emails and Facebook. You are linking with a wider pool of colleagues.

How have you been involved in SHAP?
I am a member of the Substance, Sexual Health and Risk Taking Behaviour Group and have been directly involved in the planning and delivery of workshops at the “Big World” annual event across the four secondary schools in Annandale and Eskdale. This has real benefit for us to be able to have that localised awareness raising and to be involved in a partnership event. Young people can be sign posted to further support and other professionals learn more about our service too.

Do you have any suggestions for ways in which SHAP can work differently?
I like the focused activity through the sub-groups. I think the themed meetings are a good idea. Perhaps some of the suggestions for working could be gathered through survey monkey or similar.

What are your hobbies and interests outside work?
I am a keen knitter and I am currently knitting my way through my Christmas list! I have friends and family, especially nieces and nephews who keep me busy. I like holidaying and would like to return to New York. I also have family in Turkey and Canada so I enjoy visiting them.
For more information please contact Julie-Ann on 01387 255 058
e: julie-ann.lyons@lgbtyouth.org.uk
Our main website: https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/
Our new guidance for schools in supporting transgender young people: https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/files/documents/Supporting_Transgender_Young_People_-_Digital_version.pdf

Our local promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjL2sT2TGoo