Young People’s Frequently Asked Questions
What’s it like coming to Allsorts for the first time?
We arrange for new people to come along a bit early to the Allsorts venue. A support worker will meet you and have a few minutes to chat with you to let you know about the drop-in and Allsorts. Then they will introduce you to some of the regular members who are there that week. You can work out how to get to Allsorts by looking at our ‘getting to allsorts’ page.
As the first few people arrive for the drop-in, a worker or volunteer will usually stay with you and introduce to more young people. The workers and volunteers will look out for you all the time to ensure that you are not left sitting on your own or feeling awkward. The whole group has an informal meal together at 6.30 and then we gather for any LGBT announcements at 7pm. Then there will usually be a group activity or discussion or people will sit and use the internet or just hang out in the court yard. The activities are easy to participate in and fun and relaxed – it’s a good way of feeling safe and getting to know people, particularly if you’re a bit shy or nervous.
At the end of the night people will generally hang around for a few minutes. The young people usually arrange to go out to a pub immediately after the drop-in finishes, and everyone is invited. Most of the time, someone will remember to ask the new people if they want to come, but if not, just tag along anyway!
Who else is already at allsorts?
There are a wide range of people who attend Allsorts. Varying from 13 to 25, with an average age of about 19-20. Some are at school/college/university, some are working and some are unemployed. Some people have been out for several years, and some are just thinking about what their sexual orientation or gender identity. On average, there are about 30 people at each drop-in, so there’s a good chance that you’ll meet someone you can get on with.
Who would be able to find out I went to Allsorts?
The Allsorts project keeps records of numbers, ages etc and home area of all people attending in order to monitor and evaluate how things are going. However, there is no need to record your name and if you do give any personal information, it will be treated by staff as confidential – they are the only people who will be able to look at you details. Young people attending Allsorts are also expected to respect the privacy of others by not repeating things said during the group discussions and remembering that if they should meet someone outside of the group, they may not want the people they are with at that time to know they had been.
Do I have to join in the activities?
No, but there are plenty of other things for you to do. There are books, magazines, and Internet-connected PCs available at the drop-in.
Will I be able to get some one-to-one help with a support worker?
The workers are very busy during the drop-in sessions, but you can book time with them at other times. Just ask.
Will I find a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Many of the people who attend Allsorts are doing so because they want to meet other people and sometimes that includes looking for a relationship, but the primary purpose of the group is to be supportive and welcoming to everyone there, so any relationships that form tend to do so outside of the actual drop-in times.
Will I be having to fight off swarms of people flirting with me?
NO! Most people realise that when you are meeting a group of people for the first time, it’s best to get to know them slowly. If anyone gives you unwanted hassle speak to an Allsorts worker or volunteer.
Are there any other ground rules?
Everyone has to abide by the rules of the building and the Allsorts ground rules, which have been written by young people. These include no drug or alcohol use and no smoking except in the courtyard. Everyone is expected to treat each other with respect and keep the drop-in a safe place for all who attend.
What exactly is there to do?
During the drop-in, there are books and magazines and the Internet available plus sitting around chatting and drinking tea. Most drop-ins include an organised activity such as a talk, making something, watching a video, etc. You can find out more about this by looking at the rest of the this section in the website.
OK, I want to come, what do I do?
Get in touch with one of the workers, by phone or email and let them know you want to come. They’ll arrange for you to meet with them at the Allsorts venue, usually about 15 minutes before the Drop-In opens. You can work out how to get to Allsorts by looking at our ‘getting to allsorts’ page.
I don’t want to come at the moment, any advice?
You can still phone or email the helpline for a general chat, or keep in touch with us by coming back to this site. You can get one-to-one support even if you don’t attend the main drop-in. Or perhaps you might find one of the other services in our links or local services sections is better for you.
Want to come along to Allsorts, but have a few worries?
It’s quite normal and natural to be a bit on the nervous side about going to a group where nobody knows you and you don’t know anybody. We hope that this might just help a bit in putting at rest some of your fears.
The Allsorts staff have a lot of experience of working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people and those who think they might be, but aren’t sure; and we have often been asked these questions over the years. So read on, perhaps things will seem easier once you have done. Remember you can always give us a call or email us if you want to ask any more questions.
I’d like to give it a try, but I’m worried that people will try and get off with me
Allsorts is really about people feeling safe and supported. It’s a place for you to relax, be yourself and make friends without having to have to worry about other things for a while. Some people do come along to Allsorts and find themselves a girlfriend or boyfriend, and this is great. This might be the last thing on YOUR mind though. If someone does fancy you and makes a move, don’t be afraid to let them know you are not interested, just be polite about it. If you are unable to do this or they don’t get the message tell one of the workers and they will help you out. It’s their responsibility to make sure you feel as ok as you can be.
What if it’s cliquey and I don’t fit in?
In any group you go to certain people will be drawn together because they like the same music, have shared interests or whatever. Most people will find other people in Allsorts who they get on particularly well with. This is a fact of life and different to a group becoming cliquey: this is about people deliberately stopping other people from being a part of their particular mini-group. We see this as a form of bullying and Allsorts workers will not allow this to continue without asking the young people what’s happening.
Not everyone will want to be your friend, but you and everyone has a basic right to be treated fairly and with respect. Whatever happens, the workers will not leave you sitting in a corner on your own like a prize lemon! At the end of the day Allsorts is like any other group of people; some you will like a lot, others you could well do without and others you will either take or leave.
Will it be too serious with everyone sitting around talking about his or her problems?
If you have never before been able to talk about your sexual orientation, it can feel as if there is nothing very positive about being bisexual, lesbian, gay or trans. Coming to Allsorts may change some of those negative feelings. Yes, we do talk about serious stuff some of the time, and occasionally this can be quite difficult for some people. Remember, you don’t have to take part in the serious stuff, you can hang out with other people who aren’t taking part or read a magazine or use the internet; it’s up to you.
I’m still not sure about my sexual orientation or gender identity; I don’t want to be pressured into being gay any more than I want to be pressured into being straight! I don’t want to have to fit into other people’s gender stereotypes.
A lot of people are not very sure about anything, so it’s hardly surprising that some people are not sure about their sexual orientation or gender identity. We understand this; it’s perfectly normal. The Allsorts workers will treat you as an individual. We are not here to make you lesbian or gay, bisexual, male or female . We are here to support you in the ways YOU want to be supported. Quite a few people have come along to Allsorts who have been unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity, some have gone on to decide that they are gay, lesbian or bisexual, others have decided that they are probably straight, and others have remained unsure. Some young people feel they want to explore their gender identity, other are sure they want to transition. All this is fine; there’s no time limit on deciding who you are and who you want to be.
I’m worried about going to a group on my own and into a room where everyone knows each other.
First of all you won’t go to the group for the first time on your own. One of the workers and perhaps one of the group members will have spoken to you and welcomed you to Allsorts. They will talk very informally about how you are in terms of your identity, go through the ground rules and generally try to make to feel relaxed and address any worries you may have. As far as possible a worker or volunteer will stay with you for your first Drop-in if that’s something you want – but this may not always be possible if the Drop-in is very busy. Someone will always be looking out for you those first few weeks.
What actually goes on in a group for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, I’ve been told it’s just sex, sex, sex?
If you read certain National newspapers and listen to certain politicians you might reasonably expect a group like Allsorts just to be about sex, sex and more sex. All these people do is judge EVERYTHING we do upon the people we choose to love and have sex with. This really is nonsense; this view is based on ignorance and prejudice. You can make Allsorts what you want it to be – within reason! You might use it as a place to meet new friends; it can be a place where you can talk about things you may have never been able to talk about before, or perhaps you want some support and advice.
I’m shy and I find it hard to talk to people I don’t know.
No one is expecting you to suddenly arrive into an Allsorts Drop-In and be the life and soul of the party. If you are shy the workers will introduce to perhaps one or two other people that first night so you have a chance to build up your confidence slowly. Of course you might not want to speak to anyone for weeks and this is fine. Lots of shy people have come along to Allsorts and have made a place for themselves. A good idea is not to go out of your way to try and fit in. Be yourself and although you will find that it will possibly take you longer to make friends, you will probably also find that the ones you do make will be friends for a long time.
I am bisexual, will people think I am not really one thing or the other?
Sometimes heterosexual, lesbian and gay people can be a bit defensive about just being one thing. Our group is for LGBT young people and unsure young people. We celebrate everyone’s identity and we see sexual orientation as fluid and also not so simple. Lots of people are bisexual but say they are straight. Lots of people are bisexual but say they are lesbian or gay. It’s also about the names or labels we use. Often they don’t really describe who we really are or our history or who we might be in the future.
What if it’s too much for me that first time and I don’t want to come back for a while?
No problem whatsoever. For some people that first visit is just too heavy, and they can’t wait to get out that door. The Allsorts workers understand this and will not make any judgments. You must do what you feel comfortable with and at your own speed. You may decide that you don’t want to come back for a month, 6 months or ever again. Just remember that an open door awaits you if and when you do decide to come back: and people have done this, it’s not unusual.
I’m scared that people will find out that I’m going to a gay group.
Some people couldn’t care less if everyone knows that they go to a lesbian, gay and bisexual youth group. Many people though would be terrified at that thought. One of the ground rules of Allsorts is that members do not tell every Jo, Mick and Sally they meet about who else goes to the group. Many people will be in the same situation as you, or were not too long ago so this rule is almost always respected.
I’ve only just come out and don’t know anything about being gay or trans.
There are no rules for how to be gay or bisexual or lesbian or trans. The LGBT communities do have different cultures and ways to be that some people think are more cool than others like any other groups of people. But you don’t have to be anything you don’t feel comfortable with. You can chill-ax! No need to try and fit in with what other people tell you, take from it all what’s good for you. At the end of the day, the most important thing to know about and explore is You.
I’m not sure if I’m trans or not – can you help me?
Yes. Our one-to-one support is there to help you think about what is going on for you. We have connections with trans organisations like the Gender Trust and the Clare Project and can help you get advice, information and support about anything that is troubling you.
I think I’m trans does that make me gay/lesbian?
It’s really usual for people to confuse gender identity (am I male, female, trans, something more complex than this?) with sexual orientation (do I want to have relationships with people of the same gender as me, either gender or a different gender to me?). There are links but actually, if you think about it, they are different things! Questioning and exploring the gender I feel I am is a different thing from questioning and exploring who I want to have relationships with.
Are there many trans people at your drop-in?
There are more LGB young people at Allsorts than trans but there usually are a few trans people at each Drop-In.
I’m still a bit nervous about it all.
It is a bit nerve-wracking to begin with but we are here and it’s our job to support you through any difficulties you may have, so don’t worry too much, in no time you’ll be feeling a lot better and relaxed about it all.