Each month we host an awareness session, open to anyone with an interest in supporting the LGBT+ community in Leeds.
One of the aims of our project is to increase awareness of risk & vulnerability within the community, with a focus on identifying where a person needs support and have the knowledge of support agencies available to help.
Our June session was a packed one, both in the speakers and number of attendees.
The first section was delivered by Jess, the West Yorkshire Police drugs coordinator, who provided an overview of the street drug 'Spice'. This is a synthetic cannabis, a previous 'legal high' which is now classified as a Class B drug, currently having a devastating impact on the streets of our cities. Unfortunately Leeds is seeing the same level of use as other cities in the UK with the 'zombie' effect showing the number of people using Spice.
As this Spice is a manufactured drug it doesn't have the natural anti-psychotic that's found in cannabis, nor does it have a consistent strength (even within the same batch) - so users don't have any control over how it will affect them. This video from Manchester provides an understanding of this drug.
We were then joined by the team from Samaritans Leeds who provided a fascinating overview of their services in the city, with a clear message that they're a listening service who can be contacted by anyone at any point that needs someone to talk to - either in crisis or to prevent it, and they're a fully inclusive service without any judgement on an individual.
They also talked about the work they're doing with British Transport Police in supporting staff across the rail network on suicide prevention, as covered within this video. Their #SmallTalkSavesLives campaign rang very true to our volunteers, where just a 'hello, how are you?' can be the thing that intervenes and prevents someones focus on taking their life with suicide. Be kind, always. If you see someone who you think is in distress that little bit of small talk DOES save lives.
Our session was rounded off with a presentation from Forward Leeds, who talked through the wide range of service
provisions they have in tackling drug & alcohol addiction. We know that alcohol dependency is high within the LGBT+ community due to the historic focus of the 'community' being build around the bar scene, so bringing in this awareness helps to increase knowledge of their support.
The Friday evening Angels have started distributing some materials for Forward Leeds around the bars in order to help highlight informed choices and available support, or even just the option to have someone to discuss any concerns with. Keep an eye out for the #wastedsummer materials around the bars, or for more information visit their website.
If you'd be interested in attending any of our future awareness sessions please do get in touch, or join our Ambassadors group linked to our Facebook group.