Volunteer in Manchester – it helped me embrace being LGBT+

by Charlie Middleton
September 2022

Volunteer Charlie in Manchester

Volunteer in Manchester with Just Like Us – it’s so rewarding. Giving back makes us feel good and you can find a network of kindness in your own neighbourhood.

Many spaces in society are in desperate need of help and rely heavily on their volunteers. Charities like Just Like Us need volunteer ambassadors in Manchester to help make schools in the city more LGBT+ inclusive.

Manchester is a huge city, from the outskirts to all the way in the centre. And by volunteering with Just Like Us, you can help make this city a better place for LGBT+ young people. There’s many benefits to helping out, even if it’s giving just a little of your time.

Why I started volunteering in Manchester

When I first moved to Manchester, I didn’t know any LGBT+ people. I was unsure of who to turn to, who to talk to and most of all, who would accept me. Because I’d been bullied in school, I had little confidence and was confused about my identity as we hadn’t had LGBT+ education there. I knew of Manchester Pride, but I didn’t realise the diversity that existed within the community. 

“When I first moved to Manchester, I didn’t know any LGBT+ people.”

I first realised my identity after I joined a local LGBT+ youth group called LGBT OUTLOUD. And I was welcomed with open arms. After years of struggling with my identity and sexuality, I was able to see that you can be LGBT+ and live a happy, fulfilled life. This was beyond anything I’d imagined growing up and I knew that that message would’ve been so important to me. If only I’d known. 

No person should have to hide their identity or sexuality or be scared to hold hands with their partner because of the fear of being judged by others. I want this message to be spread far and wide. Not just at Pride but for young LGBT+ people early on in education.

Volunteer in Manchester with Just Like Us

As a young disabled LGBT+ person, I had no role models or positive representations, and I knew this was something that was really needed. I don’t only wish this representation existed for myself but to show other young people that intersectionality exists.

Charlie volunteering in Manchester
Volunteer in Manchester – it helped me embrace being LGBT+

I started volunteering at Just Like Us for this very reason. Young people needed to feel empowered, embraced and celebrated. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and for young people to feel confident, proud, and accepted by their peers was the dream I’d always had at that age.

It took a lot of courage to volunteer because of my own low self-esteem. But I found that being surrounded by the other ambassadors was so uplifting. My fears quickly went away and I found a community of other LGBT+ young adults in Manchester and beyond to connect with.

Finding Manchester’s LGBT+ community 

So how can you find community and embrace being LGBT+ in Manchester? One answer would be to volunteer.

By volunteering on Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme, you’ll meet LGBT+ friends at their in-person volunteer training that takes place in Manchester. You’ll also speak in local schools with other LGBT+ ambassadors.

Giving back to the community goes a long way too. You’ll not only build your own support network but you’ll also be getting to know your city and be making a positive difference.

At Just Like Us, we are a coalition of LGBT+ young people, empowering LGBT+ young people. As ambassadors, we open up much-needed conversations in schools, media and even workplaces.

It’s powerful to know that as a volunteer, you’re improving young people’s lives. Love always wins is a phrase I’ve heard time and time again, and now I truly believe that. 

What does volunteering involve?

Volunteering with Just Like Us has helped me connect to my local LGBT+ community. It’s also helped me to be open about who I am instead of hiding that I’m a bisexual trans man. I’ve been able to make new friends, inspire young people and proudly march at Pride here in Manchester. 

But what do I do as a volunteer? Just Like Us ambassadors can take part in lots of opportunities, including:

  • Speaking in schools about growing up LGBT+ so that pupils learn about allyship – you’ll also be helping to stop anti-LGBT+ bullying
  • Getting a LGBT+ career mentor (if you’d like one) to help you progress in your chosen field
  • Learning new skills by taking part in workshops
  • Writing for media outlets like Gay Times and PinkNews

The Ambassador Programme is all about using your voice, developing skills and finding community – in Manchester and beyond.