We run residential weekends around the UK. Families and teens over 16 attend, and they have to be members of Mermaids, and undergone the checks required to join either the parents or teens groups.
One of our main aims for the weekends is to inform both young people and their families so they are able to deal with all manner of difficulties that arise from their trans status. We have found that professionals from all areas are almost always ignorant of the rights of trans children and young people, and prejudice is rife. Our speakers are not only there to show that being trans is something to be celebrated, but to empower and enable families and young people to access the best care possible in all aspects, and on occasion to challenge and secure better services. In turn, these families and young people are educating the professionals that they are encountering. Families have reported that as well as the educational aspects of the weekends, the ability to meet others in a supportive environment without the need to explain or justify themselves or their children is invaluable.
Weekends run from Friday early evening to Sunday lunchtime/afternoon, and comprise of a meet and greet on Friday, then Saturday we deliver workshops and speakers, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and socialise. A communal evening meal follows, and then Sunday is for families and teens to solidify friendships and swap details.
We recognise that families really want to attend, and would like to hold more, as all spaces are filled within hours of publicising them on the Mermaids groups. We will subsidise places for families and teens who cannot afford to contribute anything towards costs.Our funding is limited and we receive no statutory grants, and the issue for holding more weekends is not just the actual cost of each weekend but the administrative burden involved with each weekend.
We have to arrange speakers and workshops, plan accommodation, sort catering and any travel needs, plan for kids activities so parents and teens can attend workshops knowing their younger children are safe and occupied, get arts and craft supplies, carry out risk assessments, check insurance, manage waiting lists and applications, create registers and email information and updates to all.
As demand for Mermaids services is on a steep upward trajectory, our plan is to employ additional staff members to enable us to increase services such as residential weekends, a peer mentoring scheme for new members, more local groups for both parents, children and teens, and to encourage and manage volunteer engagement from within the community.
If you are interested in helping us to achieve those goals, and would like to donate to support Mermaids and the work we do, please click here.