Peter began his volunteer journey at the young age of 13. He began volunteering with the Order of Malta. He then went on to volunteer with homeless organisations before setting up Drogheda LGBT Support Group in 2015 and in 2019 went on to set up the Meath LGBT Support Group.
Peter is motivated to continue his volunteer journey by the pure passion he has for helping other people and being part of his local community. Peter also likes the fact that by volunteering it gives him the opportunity to connect with different people. “I love meeting with new people. I am a people person.” Peter was motivated to set up Drogheda LGBT support group due to his own experience coming out. “When I was coming out, I was living in a rural part of the community and there was no support there at all.” Peter spent time travelling the world with his friends and attending different Prides and different events and it quickly became clear to him that Drogheda needed something like this.
Drogheda LGBT Support Group registered with Louth Volunteer Centre in 2016. When I asked Peter how he found the support of Louth Volunteer Centre to the organisation he told me “If it wasn’t for Louth Volunteer Centre, we would probably be struggling to get volunteers.” Peter explained to me that they have their own small group of volunteers within their community that are happy to go out and support, but he feels that there can be still a stigma associated with the LGBT community within the LGBT community. “Being with Louth Volunteer Centre has been an amazing asset to the group.”
Peter feels there is many skills to be gained through volunteering. “I definitely got leadership skills. I have learned to work with people, to understand and to listen to them.” Peter also thinks that volunteering can give you the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
Peter spoke to me about the support they receive from the community. “We have a lot of allies in the community that would support us that are not part of the LGBT community but actually if you are an ally, you are part of the LGBT community. The word community is very important.”
Peter’s favourite moment of his volunteer journey to date has been achieving the title of ‘Mr Gay Louth’. Peter uses his title as ‘Mr Gay Louth’ to create awareness around HIV. Peter himself is non-HIV but is aware that it is something people within the LGBT community may be facing or struggling with. He wants to use his platform to educate people. “Mr Gay Louth is all about education and looking for resources for people and awareness around HIV.”
Peter would strongly encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering. “it’s so fun, it’s a great way to get involved with your community and it’s a really great way to meet new friends.” The theme for pride this year is ‘Pride in our Community’. Peter would encourage everyone to get involved in the pride celebrations this year and remember “you don’t have to be part of the LGBT community to be part of Pride.”