Although many in society embrace the rights of all people, providing appropriate services and responses to marginalised sections of the community sometimes proves difficult. loveLife, South Africa’s national youth leadership development organisation, is taking steps to better cater to the LGBTI community this Pride season by implementing a sensitisation and maintstreaming programme that educates staff about LGBTI issues.

While always pushing an agenda focused on healthy sexuality and gender equality through its media campaigns and modular programmes, loveLife will use this period of LGBTI activism as a springboard to educate and raise awareness among its staff and the communities it services nationwide.

This mainstreaming project comprises of special training for all psychosocial support staff working at the loveLife Contact Centre (offers free telephonic counselling and sexual health information) around issues pertinent to this community. Communication material has also been produced including a print and digital Z-Card creating awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) and discrimination of LGBTI persons, and how to deal with these issues. Support material was developed in conjunction with Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and will be available at loveLife sites as well as on the loveLife website.

Project owner and Editor-in-Chief of loveLife’s UNCUT Magazine, Angelo C Louw, says: “After an intensive consultative process we are well placed to develop and share this programme that empowers our staff to understand the challenges faced by LGBTI people and thus better respond to their needs. We have also made the information easy to

understand so that no matter who reads it, it resonates with them and changes not only their knowledge on LGBTI people, but also their perspective.”

This project comes after the successful roll out of loveLife’s collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – a GBV intervention focus on communities in the Free State and Eastern Cape which experience high levels of violence. loveLife has a vested interest in curbing violence in South Africa as a safer environment is pivotal to the successful development of young people.

Senior Manager of loveLife Psychosocial Support and Project Owner: loveLife-UNFPA Gender-Based Violence Project, Precious Magogodi, says: “We live in a society that has become tolerant of violence and this impacts negatively on development across all sectors; from the individual level to structural-economic levels. It is very important to recognise that in this new dispensation, freedom needs to be understood, internalised, and truly lived. It is important to engage with young people to establish a culture that does not tolerate violence.”

You can access the Gender-Based Violence and LGBTI People z-card by visiting http://www.lovelife.org.za/corporate/publications/, people wanting to make use of loveLife’s counselling services can send a PLZ CAL ME to 083 323 1023 or search “Mizz B” on Mxit for text-based counselling.