Jess Wood, founder and Director of Allsorts LGBT Youth Project
based in Brighton, has been awarded an MBE in the 2012 New Years
Honours List announced today, for services to lesbian, gay,
bisexual and trans young people.
Allsorts was set up in 1999, when Jess was an artist and she
volunteered as a mentor with young people in care.
The young trans lesbian she was supporting had nowhere to go to
find friends or get support. So Jess, with James Newton, a youth
worker, set up the project at the Young People's Centre, in
The project leapt in size in 2000, when the Diana Memorial Fund
gave them a grant of £200,000 to develop services for isolated and
vulnerable lesbian and gay young people. It is now one of the
largest LGBT youth projects in the country, winning Most Inspiring
Youth Project in UK by Creating the Future Awards in 2008 and
Stonewall's Best Community Project in 2009. Allsorts have also just
won the SE region in the Vinspired national youth volunteering
The group's weekly drop-in and support groups for trans young
people, GBT young men, LBT young women, LGBT under 16s, offers
assorted health and well-being programmes.
Young people from the project lead workshops in schools to combat
homophobic, bi and transphobic bullying which still accounts for a
quarter of all bullying incidents in the city's local
Married to Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah, Jess Wood was included in the
2011 international list: '100 Women: The Unseen Powerful Women Who
Change the World' for her human rights work. Representing LGBT and
young people at the Community and Voluntary Sector Forum in
Brighton and Hove she is also an equalities trainer and
Jess said: "I feel very honoured to receive such an award
especially when I think of all the wonderful volunteers and workers
in the community and voluntary sector in Brighton and Hove whose
incredible achievements also deserve recognition.
"I know I am only one of many people out there fighting for a
better and more just society. What pleases me most is that an MBE
for any LGBT individual tells us that the state recognises that the
LGBT communities matter and need specific services which the state
values and honours.
"The letter you receive mentions the Prime Minister and the Queen
- I think this shows that LGBT people really are included now in
the heart of the British Establishment. Let's hope one day, the
state church finds itself able to follow liberal faith groups in
the UK and acknowledge us too?"
Michael Casey, long standing trustee and Treasurer of the charity
said: "Jess is known for her endless hard work, enthusiasm and
optimism. She is an inspiration to everyone who works at or
"Every year she helps dozens of young people to turn their lives
around and realise their potential. Many young people come to
Allsorts at a very difficult time in their lives - feeling alone,
misunderstood and often suicidal. The services Jess has
arranged and built up over the years helps them to be happy in
themselves and understand their worth.
"Each year at Allsorts, I see young people speak movingly about
how the project has changed their lives for the better. None of
this would have happened without Jess."