A PROACTIVE teenager is setting up his own support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youngsters in Dorchester.

Dan Spracklen, 15, is looking to use his own experiences of homophobic bullying to help others in a similar position find the support they need.

He is setting up a group called STARS (Support To All, Respect as Standard), which will meet at the Dorchester Youth and Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm every Thursday from September 15.

Thomas Hardye School pupil Dan said: “I decided there wasn’t really anything out there that is informal and easy to access so I though I would set up my own group so people can come and have fun and get help if they need it.”

Dan said he had support from local PCSO Kathy Holmes and the Intercom Trust to set up a group, after a survey he conducted suggested youngsters in the town felt there was not enough support on offer.

He said the STARS group will off-er something new and he is looking forward to using his own experiences to help other teenagers.

Dan came out at around the age of 13 and said he has experienced bullying at school as a result.

He said: “At middle school there were no problems at all and it was in Year 10 most of the problems started happening.

“Some of the things I just let go but some of it I thought was just ridiculous.

“Most of the stuff I get is verbal but I have been hit a few times and stuff.”

Dan said that, while the support available from teachers was improving, some were not used to handling complaints of that nature and it was important to offer other avenues of support.

As well as offering support for one another, the STARS group will also be able to put people in touch with the Intercom Trust and the Stonewall charity for further help.

Dan, who has his parents’ support for setting up the group, said: “It’s informal and hopefully we can help one another as well.

“It’s an opportunity to come and have fun, chat and relax somewhere safe but also get support if you need to.”

For more information about the Dorchester STARS group for 13 to 19-year-olds visit the website starsdorchester.webs.com

Awards highlight achievements

YOUNG Stars are being celebrated in the Dorset Echo with a special award to highlight their achievements. News stories about children and teenagers contributing to their communities, schools or clubs through voluntary work, good deeds or personal achievement will display an Echo YoungStars logo.

The top achievements will be celebrated at the end of the year with a special trophy and a £100 cash award going to the overall winner. The Dorset Echo is keen to highlight all the good work being done by young people in the community.

If you know any children or teenagers who deserve to be recognised for their efforts then please contact the newsdesk on 01305 830999 or email newsdesk@dorsetecho.co.uk