After experiencing homophobia in the classroom, Rory Smith returned to his school as an adult to speak about his experiences as a gay teenager. In February 2016, he started volunteering with Tim Ramsey, who is now CEO of ‘Just Like Us’, and the pair began recruiting LGBT+ undergraduate ambassadors to speak in schools about the impact of causal homophobia, reaching over 15,000 young people so far.
Rory has helped to launch a series of major initiatives, including a pilot mentoring programme and an annual ‘School Diversity Week’, which is supported by the Department for Education.
In a personal letter to Rory, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through ‘Just Like Us’, you are helping to improve the lives of LGBT+ young people across the country, together with the network of volunteer ambassadors that you have built at universities. You should be immensely proud of your achievements, especially the recent pilot mentoring programme and ‘School Diversity Week’.”
Accepting the award, Rory said:
“The hours I spend volunteering with Just Like Us every week are my happiest times: I work with inspiring people who make me better, at everything, and all the time, we are empowering young people to be the best that they can be by making sure that growing up different doesn’t get in the way of living an awesome life. Being recognised with a Points of Light award is just the icing on the cake and I hope it will inspire other people to find out how much they and their communities can benefit from volunteering.”
Find out more about volunteering with Just Like Us.