A group of 15 – 24 year olds who have actively raised awareness of LGBT issues in Wigan have been honoured at the Deutsche Bank CHANGEit Awards.

The B.yoU project run by Wigan Children and Young Peoples Services (CYPS) is the only youth group in Wigan county specifically for LGBT youth.

Simon, Jay, Rebecca, Kieran, Dean, Claire, Michelle, Celli, Nathan and Amy, who are all members of the project, were presented with the CHANGEit prize by GMTV presenter Ben Shephard at a ceremony in London yesterday.

The group have been active for eight years now and have taken part in a number of events and projects for LGBT youth.

The group have recently developed, Romeo & Julian, Rosemary & Juliet,‘ a play written by members of the group expressing what it mean to be young and gay.

Jay and Becky had participated in a similar production in Manchester some years earlier and after some discussion with fellow B.yoU members, decided they wanted to do their own adaptation to perform in the surrounding community.

Drawing upon their personal experiences of homophobia, isolation and harassment the team managed to adapt the three-act classic into a 45-minute contemporary play.

The project was supported by Wigan CYPS who offered £2,600 in funding to hire a director to guide them through the process and teach them skills in the performing arts.

The production has been performed at the Wigan Hate Crime conference, local council events, pride parades and at local schools.

Each time it is performed the script is modified to incorporate everyone’s experiences and weave personal monologues into the storyline.

With the success of their first production under their belt, the group has since begun work on Oliver Turned, an adaptation on the classic Oliver Twist, which will further explore LGBT issues.

They plan to begin performing Oliver Turned in schools across Wigan County in October 2008.