Young people in Sligo have created an award-winning project last year to raise awareness of the support services in their locality that LGBT+ teens can turn to.

A national report published in April looking at the mental health of Ireland’s LGBT+ community found that there had been “a stark deterioration”. The report by Trinity College Dublin, conducted for LGBT+ youth organisation Belong To, reported that 77 per cent of the 14-18 year-olds surveyed had reported suicidal thoughts.

A total of 72 per cent said they had self-harmed, and 66 per cent said they experienced severe symptoms of anxiety. Half of the young people surveyed reported experiencing severe depression.

Against this backdrop, earlier this year, young people in Sligo Comhairle na nÓg created their award-winning project to raise awareness of the support services in their locality that LGBT+ teens can avail of. Their short animation ‘Here for You’ took home the Best Mental Health Initiative award at the 2024 Local Authority All Ireland Community and Council Awards.

The awards were announced in February by the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) to celebrate communities and local authorities working together and to highlight work done within communities.
‘Here for You’ built upon work undertaken last year by Sligo Comhairle na nÓg in relation to the mental health of young people. Sligo County Council knew of this work and approached the local Comhairle to alert them to funding provided by the Department of Rural Community Development under the Dormant Accounts Fund for LGBTI+ organisations.

The funding of €15,000 enabled the procurement of Studio Meala, who also saw the value in the project and who were experienced with the needs of the LGBTI+ community. The result is a powerful short product for use on social media.


Foróige youth officer, and former Sligo Comhairle na nÓg coordinator Tara Gavin said the Comhairle members discussed the possible funding at one of its regular meetings and thought it was a good idea.

“With Comhairle you normally have a certain topic to work on for the year. We actually had three: mental health, transport and youth facilities. We mostly talked about it under the mental health umbrella. And we do have some young people from the LGBT community on the Comhairle as well,” she said.

“All youth spaces in Sligo welcome young people from the LGBT+ community. But they were trying to pinpoint where exactly these young people can go to and feel safe,” continued Tara. “Foróige obviously is number one. There is a group next door called Smiley, which is an LGBT group. There’s loads of other places; we felt that all of these groups were very welcoming.

“It’s just that young people don’t know really where they are, or aren’t confident enough to just walk in and approach these places. So we wanted to raise awareness that these places are here, and they do welcome young people from the LGBT community.”


After some brainstorming, the Comhairle members settled on the idea of an information video in the form of a short cartoon.

“We spoke to different animation studios around Ireland and we ended up picking one close to home; it’s in Boyle, so not far from Sligo,” revealed Tara. She said the Comhairle members enjoyed working with the animators, giving their views online on the content, music and colours, and seeing the animation come to life.

“Once upon a time it was just scribbles and pencil drawings, and then it got colour and then the music was added, so it was nice to see the journey. Then we wanted to add in the signposts for Strandhill and Rosses Point, and the local takeaway. We put a Sligo touch to it.

“In the video we don’t have exactly where Foróige or Smiley is, we just have a very general ‘Youth Services’. And once you walk into the building, all the youth services are welcoming.”

Local agencies such as Sligo County Council, ATU, Foróige, North Connaught Youth Service, and the Sligo-Leitrim Children and Young Peoples Services Committee all supported the project and helped to promote the animation.

There are currently 25 young people involved in Sligo’s Comhairle na nÓg. Their chosen topic for this year is vaping, drugs and alcohol misuse. Not content to sit on their laurels after winning a national award, Tara says the group already “have a few things up their sleeve” for 2024.

Sligo Comhairle na nÓg is one of 31 child and youth councils across the country. Their purpose is to give children and young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of local services and policies.

The purpose of the Dormant Account funding was to help provide services to LGBTI+ organisations nationwide, targeting marginalised people experiencing exclusion on account of their LGBTI+ identities.  The Department’s call to action referred to research which shows that LGBTI+ individuals living in small towns and rural areas can be very isolated.

Watch ‘Here for You’ on Youtube: