About us The Rainbow Project is a health organisation that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland. We are the largest LGB&T organisation in Northern Ireland and have two centres: one in Belfast city centre and the other in Foyle, L’Derry. History The Rainbow Project was established in 1994 by a group of volunteers who were concerned about the spread of HIV within the gay male population of Northern Ireland. These volunteers wanted to provide information and support to men who have sex with men (MSM) ahout HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). They carried out research within the gay and bisexual communities in order to find out what type of information and support services were required. As a result of this research, the project began to offer information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), distributing safer sex materials and leaflets at commercial gay venues and LGBT events. Although our initial work was focused on HIV and STI prevention, it became clear that our service-users had additional support needs related to their physical health generally as well as mental & emotional well-being. As such, The Rainbow Project was able to offer professional counselling services to gay/bisexual men, and those unsure of their sexual orientation, as well as providing practical interventions in the form of advocacy support for those men who had been discriminated against or been verbally, physically, and/or sexually assaulted because of their sexual orientation. Today, The Rainbow Project is still committed to the prevention of HIV and STI transmission among men who have sex with men, however, we are also committed to addressing the physical, mental & emotional health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland. We do this by providing a number of services, facilitated by 15 full-time members of staff, under the direction of a volunteer-led Board of Trustees. We continue to have a strong volunteering ethos and seek to create opportunities for people to contribute to our overall organisational aims and objectives. Mission Statement The Rainbow Project is devoted to promoting the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people and their families in Northern Ireland, as well as those questioning their orientation or gender, through partnership, advocacy and the development and delivery of appropriate support services. This mission will be achieved by: Introducing best practice based on evaluation of services, research and engagement with partners and LGB&T people. Being innovative in both the development and delivery of services. Working in partnership, with statutory, community voluntary and private sector organisations to ensure the needs of LGB&T people in Northern Ireland are met. Influencing policy by lobbying policymakers in constructive and concerted campaigns. Raising awareness of The Rainbow Projects expertise in relation to issues impacting on LGB&T people in Northern Ireland. Values The Rainbow Project holds the following as its key values: Gay Affirmative: The Rainbow Project values all sexual orientations and believes that no one sexual orientation is better or worse than any other. We believe that all sexual orientations should be celebrated equally and that no person should face prejudice or inequality based on their sexual orientation. Sex Positive: The Rainbow Project values sex, and sexuality, as an important part of who we all are. We believe that understanding our sexuality and promoting openness in our relationships leads to better sex lives, better health and well-being and better relationships. Gender Aware: The Rainbow Project values the diverse representations of gender within our society. We believe that people should not have to fit in with the gender roles assigned to us by society and we actively encourage free presentation of gender as a representation of our uniqueness. Evidence led: The Rainbow Project values the opinions and experiences of our community and society. We ensure that all our work aimed at addressing the inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people is clearly evidence led and in response to the needs of our community. Rights based: At its core, The Rainbow Project values the individual human rights of all within society. We believe that to ensure the rights of one you must ensure the rights of all and consequently, our work is carried out from a rights based perspective. Holistic: The Rainbow Project values a holistic approach to addressing the inequalities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people. Our work is led by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account the impact of social factors, rather than just the individual’s physical or mental health. Innovative: The Rainbow Project values new and innovative approaches to addressing the inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people. Expert: The Rainbow Project values itself as the leading expert on LGB&T issues in Northern Ireland. Through continual study, research and consultation we work to increase our knowledge around issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity and provide expert services to LGB&T people and those working with this group. Volunteer led: The Rainbow Project values the individual contributions made by each of our volunteers and recognises the key role of volunteers in developing and delivering the strategic aims of the organisation.