Two young people, one wearing a rainbow flag, sitting on a blue METRO beanbag

Children in Need's Next Steps COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded METRO £79,000 for 18 months to expand our counselling provision for LGBTQ+ young people.

The grant will be used to expand METRO’s counselling service to support 330 young people every year, up from 180, and enable us to start to engage with the 45 young people that are currently on our waiting list.

In addition, the grant will support work with under 13-year-olds who have been difficult to engage with remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have adapted our offer by creating a Wellbeing Toolbox that is sent through the post. A counsellor then works with parents and children to provide practical and emotional support to engage with the Wellbeing Toolbox. This grant will enable us to reach more children and young people that might benefit from this new intervention, particularly if they need support around their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jo Robinson, METRO’s Head of Mental Health, explains, “This much-needed grant from Children in Need will help us to make all the difference to children and young people who might need support around their sexual orientation or gender identity struggling with the isolation caused by lockdown restrictions, which has been particularly hard on some LGBTQ+ children and young people.

“We have seen a significant increase in referrals during COVID-19, largely because of the loss of regular public services and many children and young people struggling with isolation due to school closures. Many young people have had counselling in schools abruptly halted, leaving them isolated and without support. Also, the various local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) we work with have reported they have been under pressure during this time and had to reduce the support that they can offer. For example, we have had parents ringing us to ask for support, as CAMHS have been unavailable to help them.

Whilst we have adapted well to the situation, we are now pleased to be in the position where we can step up our support and increase our offer thanks to this new grant.”