WHY WE NEEDED A NEW GROUP
We'd been told a couple of weeks earlier that SHOUT* (see below) was changing from a support group to an educational role. Some of us who'd been going to Shout for quite a while were using it as a way to keep connected - more a social point, than anything. I felt that we needed to carry on as a group, so did a few brainstorms with everyone and came up with a draft mission statement that we all modified the following week. I rang around a few places and found the Quaker Meeting House as a great place to meet at a very cheap rate. Over the next few weeks, we got the committee together as it now stands and Jonathan drafted the constitution and we modified it to its present form.
South Yorkshire does not have much of a gay scene or community, when compared to places like Leeds or Manchester. I feel that if we want a sense of community, where we can be there for each other then we have to create that for ourselves.
Peer support can offer that sense of togetherness that many people need who are shy or are low in confidence, to help them raise self-esteem and gain friends. It's a positive cycle, as people who were low in confidence are then able to help others, which further raises self-esteem.
I also feel there is a need to reach those who do not use the commercial gay scene for whatever reason, and find out what they would like to see.
I think we have an opportunity here to make a positive impact in many peoples lives. None of this would have been possible, however without the hard work that everyone on the committee has put in. So thanks for supporting SoundOut, and spread the word about us.
Steve Gregory (Chairman)
* SHOUT is a valuable service, funded by the NHS, which, until recently, offered ongoing support to members, but due to funding difficulties have had to revamp their service to more of an educational role. They've had to reform and reevaluate what they are about. I'm going to invite Matt, Shout's manager to explain where Shout are at and post on this site, as he's the one who can explain their current position better than anyone.
WHY THE NAME SOUNDOUT?
I wanted a name that reflected what we were about. During a brainstorm about what we wanted from the new group, a safe space, and a place where we could offer each other peer support and develop friendships, was something that was important to a majority of people, as well as a place for social events and fun in the community as a group.
I started out thinking about a safe space, and the phrase "safe and sound" came into my head. That got me thinking of the word "Sound." If something is sound, then it has a firm foundation, or is solid, healthy and well grounded. I thought then of using "Safe and sound, Out", then thought that is too long, shortened it to Sound Out, and thought about that. To "Sound Out" something is to ask questions or explore something openly. And Obviously "Out" is to be open about one's sexuality.
So putting it all together, "SoundOut" stands for a place, or group of people, that offers people a firm foundation from which to develop positive friendships and offer each other peer support; a safe space to ask questions and explore in an open way for gay and bisexual men.
I wanted to incorporate the double male symbol in some way, within the name, to represent a gay group and used the two O's in SoundOut, when presenting the name to the group, and it has stuck.
Steve Gregory (Chair)
Once we'd got a name and a mission statement, that's when the idea of this group seemed to catch fire. Within 10 - 15 minutes a a meeting at Shout, we'd decided and voted on a committee, pretty much as it now stands.
I have to say we've got some talent amongst us. Jonathan wrote the constitution seemingly with ease - it would have taken me weeks and not been half as good. Tom designed the final logo; created and chose this design for our website; and designed the business cards we now have. Simon has got a level head and his ideas are usually very sound. William is loud and "in your face", but that's what you need for someone driving publicity. Again Dan is well known as Tyriana and is good for publicity. Robert has got a very dry wit, is very forthright and quite analytical. He can usually go straight to the root of a problem. He's also very good with money. Tony has experience already with making funding bids and he's already started funding applications. And me, well I guess I have the passion to want to drive this group forward and really make a difference in peoples lives.
So thank you all for the hard work you've put in already, and I hope we can look back from a position where this group is a real success story.
I will continue to update this story as it unfolds.