Three cheers for SAYiT
This autumn was a remarkable time for us at SAYiT, as a month of celebrations culminated in a much anticipated event to mark our 20th anniversary. It was a very emotional and moving event and we were amazed that over 180 people braved the cold October night to attend. Expertly hosted by our young people, we were taken on a magical journey of SAYiT’s origin and history, reflection from over the years, much celebration and a closing message of hope. The night was filled with a vibrant array of wonderful speakers from our founders, trustees and team as well as some very special guests. We heard from allies including Dr Naomi Sutton, Consultant Physician, who discussed the importance of youth specific sexual health services and local Councillor Jackie Drayton, a big supporter of our work, who showed us how true partnership between the council and the voluntary sector can really make a difference to people’s health, wellbeing and future potential.
“It was such a wonderful evening, laughter and tears, and I was incredibly moved. The talks, poetry and music were all fantastic, with the young people at the heart of it all. I can’t wait to hear how it goes this year.”
The audience were touched by an emotional awards ceremony, which acknowledged and honoured individuals whose work helps to improve the lives of local LGBT+ people. Many congratulations to our winners!
We also enjoyed performances by our young people, spoken word by local poet Monique Russell and a cracking choir performance by LGBT+ choir Out Aloud.
“Thanks for last night. What an amazing turnout. And it was wonderful seeing your young people run the show. Incredible confidence (which I have no doubt they get from being part of SAYiT).”
Whilst the main emphasis was on celebration, it is a sad fact that the charity is needed more than ever. In the past year the country has witnessed a surge in LGBT+ hate crime. We continue to do all it can to help combat hate crime, both from inside and outside the LBGT+ community. Our CEO Steve Slack said: “We have seen increases in hate crime and bigotry in the past and we have been steadfast in confronting such prejudice and discrimination. Sheffield is a great city in which to grow up and the vast majority of people want what is best for all of its citizens – young and old. It is only a small proportion of people who voice hatred and we will continue to challenge them and make this an inclusive city for all.”
We also heard some touching words from Noah Lomax’s father. Last year one of our young LGBT+ people, Noah, who had attended SAYiT briefly, took his own life. Following the loss of Noah, his family set up ‘The Noah Lomax’ fund with SAYiT. This hardship fund allows us to pay for counselling sessions for SAYiT’s young people. I am sure we are not alone when we say that Noah’s family are an inspiration.
“I’m not normally one lost for words, and that’s is why I am so thankful that I came along – Thank you. I came away having learned a lot last night and from everyone involved with SAYiT.
-I heard about a lady called Sheena Amos who I have never heard or met before the speech written about her, brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms.
– I heard about Noah Lomax, someone who I had never met or heard of, Noah committed suicide at just aged 15 and since his death his family have been fundraising to provide counselling for teens using SAYiT’s services whilst listening to Noah’s story I felt compelled and committed to doing some fundraising to keep his spirit alive (first though I have to try and keep the forget me not seeds alive in 2020)
-I saw some amazing spoken word and performances by some very brave and inspiring individuals
-You all reminded me that it is ok if you don’t understand everything as long as you are willing to listen and learn
-You all reminded me what real genuine compassion looks like”
Event organiser and Charity Manager Christie reflects on the event: “I am humbled by the support and proud of the commitment made by all the amazing people who made our birthday what it was. The young people, staff, trustees, volunteers and our supporters, allies and funders all contributed their time, donations and talents in a way that showed to me that we can achieve solidarity and strength if we pull in the same direction, even when set against increasingly divided times. The event surpassed my hopes and expectations and this is testament to so many dedicated and kind people who see the value SAYiT brings to the city and who stand for equality, inclusivity and LGBT+ rights. What a birthday to remember!”