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Rainbow Badge initiative brings greater inclusion

Ryan Goulding and Jennie Synnott at the launch

Ryan Goulding and Jennie Synnott at the launch

Improving access to healthcare by promoting inclusiveness – that’s what a Rainbow Badge initiative at Eist Linn in Cork city is all about.   Eist Linn is the region’s residential mental health service for people under 18 and the team there recently got the backing of Chief Officer Michael Fitzgerald,  Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Senator David Norris for their Rainbow Badge initiative which breaks down barriers for young people who want to discuss LGBT+ issues. All three sent video messages of support to the recent on-line launch.

Staff wearing the badge are signalling to the young people in the service that they are open to having conversations around LGBTQ+ issues, have completed training, and can signpost to other supports if needed.  Eist Linn is the third HSE facility in the country to introduce the HSE Rainbow Badge and their version uses the HSE inclusive flag design, which highlights the specific struggles faced by members of the trans community and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are people of colour.

Ryan Goulding, acting Clinical Nurse Manager 2 at Eist Linn, said the initiative is important at Eist Lin because research has shown that more than half of LGBTI+ youth in Ireland have self-harmed; and one-in-three have tried to take their own life. Yet three-quarters feel healthcare professionals lack knowledge and sensitivity to LGBTI+ issues, and two-thirds state they do not feel respected by healthcare professionals. 

“I’m a member of the LGBT+ community myself, I know the struggles that LGBT+ people face, I have friends who tell me about their issues. It’s important from a young age to have people that you can turn to, and open up about these things,” Ryan said, adding that for some young people it may give them their first opportunity to discuss LGBT+ issues.   “It could be something that might help young people to open up, maybe for the first time, about issues relating to LGBT+,” he added.

Jennie Synnott, the area Director of Nursing for Child and Adolescent Mental Health services paid tribute to staff for the work they have put into the launch.  She added that LGBT+ young people can have difficulties accessing health care, and having conversations: “This is about us being welcoming and open to these conversations,” she said.


Training is available for other HSE staff and teams who would like to replicate the initiative.  “We’re also hoping that other services within Cork Kerry Community Healthcare will embrace this. This is a cradle to grave thing, younger people can come out, older people can come out, we just want the community that are using our services to know that they can speak to staff members,” Jennie Synnott added.  Eist Linn’s Rainbow Badge initiative is also supported by Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit for Cork and Kerry; and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.

You can see videos about the initiative below.