The Rainbow Project is a health organization that works to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of gay, bisexual and non-heterosexual men in Northern Ireland. It is the largest gay organisation in Northern Ireland and has two centers: one in Belfast city center and the other in Foyle, L’Derry.
The organization was established in 1994 by a group of volunteers who were concerned about the spread of HIV infection within the gay male population of Northern Ireland. These volunteers wanted to provide information and support to men who have sex with men (MSM) ahout HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). They carried out research within the gay and bisexual communities in order to find out what type of information and support services were required.
As a result of this research, the project began to offer information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), distributing safer sex materials and leaflets at commercial gay venues and LGBT events.
Although initial work was focused on HIV and STI prevention, it became clear that service-users had additional support needs related to their physical health generally as well as their mental & emotional well-being. As such, The Rainbow Project was able to offer professional counseling services to gay/bisexual men, and those unsure of their sexual orientation, as well as providing practical interventions in the form of advocacy support for those men who had been discriminated against or been verbally, physically, and/or sexually assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
Current Work Edit
Today, The Rainbow Project is still committed to the prevention of HIV and STI transmission among men who have sex with men, however, the organization is also committed to addressing the physical, mental & emotional health needs of gay and bisexual men. This is done by providing a number of services, facilitated by full-time members of staff, under the direction of a volunteer-led Board of Trustees. The Rainbow Project continues to have a strong volunteering ethos and seeks to create opportunities for gay/bisexual men to contribute to their overall organizational aims and objectives.
Its current Director is John O'Doherty.
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