LEAP Volunteers assemble for the 2024 Volunteer Conference

7th March 2024

LEAP Volunteers assemble for the 2024 Volunteer Conference

On Saturday 3rd February we hosted our 2024 volunteer conference. This was a brilliant opportunity for our volunteers to come together to hear about the exciting work we have planned for the year ahead and to engage in important workshops and conversations around LGBTIQ+ inclusion, diversity and representation through the lens of sport, volunteering and activism.

We kicked off the day by hearing about LEAP Sports’ 2024 project updates and exciting events that our volunteer team will be at the heart of supporting this year. These include; our calendar of pride events from March-August, starting with Trans Pride in Kilmarnock, Festival Fortnight; our inclusive LGBTIQ+ sports festival from 17th-30th June and for the first time ever, Qeltic Games; a large multi-sport event that will be hosted in Perth on 31st August. Our volunteers are vital for the successful delivery of our events and for providing much needed support to the LEAP team, our partners and club network.

The conference placed a strong focus on the importance of diversity and inclusion within and for the LGBTIQ+ community. Project officers Mat and Esraa led us in an LGBTIQ+ inclusion and best practice session that placed a focus on barriers and diverse experiences of those in LGBTIQ+ community and the importance of language and creating safe spaces for queer people. 

Esraa shared some of their thoughts on the workshop;

“We had the chance to explore queer terminology that is not exclusive to the west and is used within various cultures in the global south including: Hijras in South Asia, Two Spirited in Native Americans, First Nations and indigenous communities, Boya in West Asia, Arab speaking countries and more. This is a crucial point to keep in mind, especially when we are interacting with queer people from the asylum and refugee communities in Glasgow. Sometimes the English language can be a barrier and is limiting when expressing someone’s sexuality and gender.

The English language is a skill to learn and is not a measurement of someone’s awareness of LGBT+ issues, nor is it a measurement of people’s intelligence. Queerness is global and it transcends language.”

The theme of inclusion connected well into our next workshop which was led by one of our volunteers, Tommy, who delivered an excellent workshop around LGBTIQ+ inclusive British Sign Language (BSL). These conversations strengthened the importance of language in showing solidarity and connecting to others within the queer community. The session allowed volunteers to practice introducing and sharing facts about themselves through BSL, as well as using queer terminology to express their sexual and gender identities.

The conference concluded with a focus on self-care and reflection with a mindfulness and wellbeing workshop led by Lyndsey from ‘the Wee Retreat’ and some group discussions around individual volunteer journeys and the team’s hopes for what is to come. 

We want to say a massive thank you to all that attended, presented and contributed to the volunteer conference. We are very lucky to be surrounded by such a great team as we continue our work for the LGBTIQ+ community across Scotland. 

Written on 7th March 2024.