New Barnardo’s ‘Gender Space’ support for trans, non-binary and gender questioning young people in the North

25 September 2017

Barnardo’s Positive Identities Service is to pilot an innovative new partnership between Barnardo’s and the NHS Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in Leeds, called Gender Space.


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Gender Space, which will support trans, non-binary and gender questioning young people, is a six-month pilot project from September 2017 to March 2018. It is funded by a £10,962 funding grant from the Barnardo’s Innovation Fund. 

GIDS is a highly specialised clinic established in 1989 for young people who are presenting with difficulties with their gender. It is commissioned by NHS England. The waiting time for a first appointment is currently approximately 6 months from the date of referral, following the unprecedented increase in the number of referrals to the service. 

GIDS has seen a large increase in referrals of young people in the North wanting to access support – meaning increased pressures on waiting times. The pilot will offer support to young people who are on the GIDS waiting list, giving them the opportunity to explore their identity, understand their rights and gain support while they are waiting for their first appointment with a consultant. Young people will be offered up to four creative and informal, one-to-one sessions with a Barnardo’s specialist practitioner.

Spaces for anyone referred to Barnardo’s Gender Space are limited to a small cohort of young people identified for the pilot. Sessions are offered in central Leeds, but the young people could be from anywhere in the North. The pilot will be evaluated to fully understand its impact and explore what funding opportunities are available to continue the work developed.

Young people who identify as LGBTQ statistically experience poor emotional and mental well-being, with lesbian, gay and bisexual young people twice as likely to make at least one suicide attempt in their lives compared to heterosexual young people (34% compared to 18%). Young people referred to GIDS report high levels of low mood, anxiety and self-harm or suicidal ideation prior to attending the service.

Yasmeen Sharif, Barnardo’s Children’s Services Manager for Positive Identities, says: “We are really pleased that we have this opportunity to develop such an exciting partnership with GIDS to meet the needs of young people. The work being developed is at the heart of all the work Positive Identities undertakes and we know there is a demand for the support.  We will be able to offer them this support while they are on the waiting list for GIDS as we know that young people questioning their gender identity are more vulnerable to bullying and poor mental health than other young people.”

Dr Sally Phillott, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Manager of the GIDS Leeds service, says: “We are very excited about working in Partnership with Barnardo’s and are pleased that the young people who have been referred to our service will have the opportunity to access their support whilst waiting to be seen in GIDS."

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