A WOMAN running an LGBT+ youth group in a town has been nominated for a national diversity award.

Darlington woman Michelle Haigh has been nominated for the Positive Role Model (LGBT) Award at The National Diversity Awards 2020.

Ms Haigh, who volunteers at The James Cook University Hospital, established LGBT youth group YPop after the closure of another service, leaving children with no where to go.

She wanted to ensure that her non-binary child, Eli, and their friends had a safe and non-judgemental space to go.

The 49-year-old, who was nominated for the award by a local drag queen, said: "People are shocked and blown away, but this is just something I do. I don't get why other people think it's so amazing. It's just natural to me."

The newly finished biomedical sciences student was forced to put YPop, which has been given a free space to meet by Cornerstone Arts, on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but is eager to host a prom for the group once lockdown eases as many will now not have one.

"The kids want it to be a 80s vogue style ball," she added.

The woman, previously nominated for an inspirational leader award, consults the group of teens that attend YPop on every decision, ensuring that they get what they need from the service.

Anne Witty Comb, the drag queen who nominated Ms Haigh, is expected to perform at the ball if it goes ahead.

On the nomination, Miss Witty Comb, who is part of the LGBT+ Newton Aycliffe group, said: "The work Michelle does in our community is amazing. She put all of her own time and effort into YPop and it is inspiring.

"She is giving LGBT youth a safe space and really, really, deserves this win. I truly believes she should win, and not because she needs the confidence but the recognition for her work."

Ms Haigh hopes winning a diversity award will help establish YPop within the region's LGBT+ community.

While the first few weeks were "about getting the kids relaxed", there were also bigger events planned, as well as participation in the community carnival and Pride.

"Kids are seeing that they have a presence in the community," Ms Haig added. "And others are seeing that they have somewhere to go and be looked after, almost, as many are not happy at home."

Miss Witty Comb also praises the mum for inviting her to do drag workshops with the youngsters, providing them with a platform to explore themselves in a safe space.

Search National Diversity Awards and find Ms Haigh on the nominee map.