akt in bristol - meet mijanou akt is now offering services for vulnerable LGBTQ+ young people in Bristol. Mijanou Blech is our new Project Manager in Bristol, and will be developing akt’s programme of support in the South West and overseeing the development of a casework service in there. With the team in Bristol soon to expand with a Caseworker post, we spoke to Mijanou about her role. Can you tell us what drew you to the role? The project in Bristol is very new and I really enjoy developing new projects and programmes that are going to make a significant impact on young LGBTQ+ peoples lives. We have a lot of research and consultation to do still and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to scope out what’s needed and develop services with a range of partners and with the young people themselves before we launch anything. What do you think the challenges are for young LGBTQ+ people in Bristol? Bristol is great place to live as an LGBTQ+ person, however, I think the biggest challenge like anywhere else is that we seem to be regressing into a less tolerant society per se, with pockets of intolerance bubbling to the surface. Being safe in being able to express oneself openly can be a challenge, the project will also work with LGBTQ+ young people across the southwest, in some places the challenge will be lack of appropriate support and isolation. What kind of support will akt be offering in Bristol? The great thing about this project is that we haven’t determined what services we will be offering from the off. The idea is to gather more information on what is needed by consulting with a range of stakeholders and developing strong partnerships that can respond and cater for the needs of our young people and that they are involved in determining what that might look like. We will however be recruiting a caseworker to deal with any immediate young people’s needs that may arise from our presence here. What have been the highlights of your time at akt so far? I’ve been here a couple of weeks! My highlights have been attending the opening of the new premises in London and the 30th anniversary celebration. It gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of the akt team and some of the young people they work with in a relaxed environment. Is there anything you're particularly excited about with your role at akt? I’m excited about meeting the young people we will potentially work with and involving them in the creation of services for them. I’m also excited at the prospect of akt innovating new ways of working with young people and partners through this project. What do you think the challenges of the role might be? There is a lot to do, being the new kid on the block is sometimes difficult and we will need to be sensitive to the local landscape and work within existing pathways and frameworks. The needs are big, and we need to be aware that we can’t provide services everywhere or for everyone, so being focussed and targeted will be essential! How can people contact you? People can contact me by email [email protected] or through Off the Record in Bristol.