Support in the City: A Guide to LGBTQ Services and Groups in the Northwest

University can be a tumultuous time for many students exploring their sexuality and identity. We look at the range of networks and services available in Manchester and Liverpool

Feature by Helen McCarthy | 06 Sep 2013

Moving to a new city can be tough, and it can be even tougher for LGBTQ people who aren’t familiar with what their new home has to offer; but both Manchester and Liverpool have a wealth of services, groups, and organisations – including counselling services, sexual health services, sports teams, book clubs, and more – available to anyone who needs them. Details of these can be found in outnorthwest, a free magazine that you can pick up all over the place, but there are also some key organisations that can offer a lot of support for LGBTQ students who find themselves in a very new environment, which we've outlined at the end of this piece.

Most universities in the Northwest have LGBTQ societies, and Manchester and Liverpool in particular are close to large and varied gay districts. “It’s a great support system,” says Joe Newton-Smith White from the University of Manchester’s LGBTQ society; “they can assist you with problems you are having regarding your studies, or provide you with contacts if you have any problems with the (gay) Village.” Tom Hillsdon, another active member of the society, agrees that “having a good, strong and present LGBTQ society is important for Manchester specifically due to the well-known LGBTQ scene and gay village here, which can all be quite scary and daunting for those who may be new to it all.” Liverpool is much the same, its Pride parade being one of the biggest free festivals in Europe.

So what can Manchester and Liverpool’s villages offer an LGBTQ student? “There is a lot of variety,” both Tom and Joe agree. “There are bars which are more quiet and relaxed which will suit those who want to chat with friends and possibly have something to eat. There are also venues for people who want to dance the night away.”  

So with more social and support groups, societies, clubs and bars than you can shake a rainbow flag at, Manchester and Liverpool should be ideal places for LGBTQ students to explore – and, more importantly, feel comfortable.

42nd Street is a service for “young people under stress” that has been established in Manchester for 30 years. It’s entirely free and confidential; and though it isn’t a strictly LGBTQ service, it is a safe zone for all. It offers counselling and drop-in sessions, and runs social media projects and leadership programmes.

42nd Street, the SPACE, 87-91 Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, M4 5AG, 0161 228 1888

MORF is a social group for trans men that is associated with – and located in – The Lesbian & Gay Foundation in Manchester. They “welcome all female-assigned/raised, transgendered, transsexual, gender-questioning, genderqueer and gender variant people over the age of 18, no matter what stage of transition,” and have regular meetings on the fourth Monday of every month, with diverse speakers and themes, including sexual health, pre- and post-surgery mental health, and trans rights and self advocacy.

MORF, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, 5 Richmond Street, Manchester, M1 3HF, 07948 243289

TREC (Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre) provides a safe space for trans people and runs a wide range of activities. Their evening sessions are on the third Friday of every month, and they’ve previously run workshops on staying safe and trans health, among many other topics. They also have a SOFFA group (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies of Trans People), and loads of keynote speakers.

Trans Resource & Empowerment Centre, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, 5 Richmond Street, Manchester, M1 3HF, 07513 880 647 

LGYM (Lesbian and Gay Youth Manchester) is an organisation for 14-25 year old lesbian, gay and transsexual youth that is safe, supportive and very social. They’re located near Manchester Metropolitan University, so super convenient for students, and run lots of different activities that are both artsy and outdoorsy. They do lots of campaigning throughout Manchester, and offer a peer-mentoring support system as well.

The Joyce Layland LGBT Youth Centre, 49-51 Sidney Street, Manchester, M1 7HB, 07900 680725 

LIV.FAST Network is a female-to-male transsexual support group in Merseyside for people no matter what stage they are at in their transition. They provide a safe space where people can meet each other and socialise, and also run two meetings twice a month, the first being more social, and the second more focused on guest speakers and workshops.

GYRO (Gay Youth ‘r’ Out) is open every Thursday for LGBTQ people aged 18-25. They’re part of Liverpool’s Young Person’s Advisory Service and offer a wide range of services, with advice on coming out written by the young people who use the service. They recently made a film called Are We There Yet? From Homophobia to Equality that features young people’s personal experiences of homophobia and transphobia.

GYRO, YPAS, 36 Bolton Street, Liverpool, L3 5LX, 0151 203 0824 

TSS (Trans Support Service) is a new service – an empowering organisation that aims to give trans people medical advice in a supportive environment – that’s part of Liverpool Community Health. People using the service are generally referred by their GP, but they will answer any queries regardless.

0151 284 2500

Brook is a crucial organisation that provides free contraception, STI testing and unbiased support for people under 25. Centres are located all over the Northwest, with ones in Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan, Salford, Oldham, and the Wirral.

Stonewall has written a gay university guide that rates the LGBTQ societies and services of universities throughout Britain, including the University of Manchester, University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan, Liverpool John Moores, and Liverpool Hope.

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