A County Durham group, named after their mission statement “to bring everyone out of their shell” is celebrating entering the new year with hopes to welcome more members to the group.

The Egg Crackers was created to form a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and anyone who is neurodivergent or additionally abled.

After struggling to find a group that represents her in County Durham, Letty decided to set up an LGBTQIA+ group in Chester-le-Street that would allow her to support those in her community.

Letty recalled the first few meetings being incredibly disheartening with not one single person turning up. Until one chance meeting at a bus stop which led to Letty meeting her best friend and first member of The Egg Crackers group.

The Northern Echo: The focus of the group is to allow those attending to come out of their shells and be themselves

Through word of mouth and encouragement of the members, this led to many more people joining the group and attending their regular meetings.

She said: “The first couple of months I was feeling really low because not one person turned up.

“The first person to come to my group, I met by chance, and she is now my best friend and treasurer of the group.”

The focus of the group is to allow those attending to come out of their shells and be themselves without the fear of judgement.

Letty was able to set up the group with help from a group that runs housing initiatives, training, support groups and more to empower those who have been disadvantaged or faced social exclusion.

Letty said: “I’m still trying to get us out there and promote the group, it would be great to have some older members join the group.”

After encountering many hateful attacks on herself and hearing about the difficult experiences of her friends it spurred Letty on to want to help members the members of her group.

She said: “Having something to focus on also helps me and my mental health, my group has given me a sense of joy because I’m helping people, but I would like to see more people come.”

The Northern Echo: The group was created to form a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who is

The group meet at REfUSE café in Chester-le-Street to offer peer-to-peer support and plan events for their members.

At their first meeting back after Christmas (Tuesday, January 9) the group discussed some positive news for the LGBTQIA+ community, struggles they had faced over the festive season as well as some suggestions for the progression of the group in the new year, which included encouraging more people to join and planning events.

Letty also won a community star award from Karbon Homes for her work in setting up and running the group named a community hero as part of their 12 Deeds of Christmas initiative.

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Employment Advisor at the Foundations for Life team at Karbon Homes, Jenn Wilson recommended Letty for the community star award and is so thrilled at how caring and supportive the group are towards each other.

The Northern Echo: Letty Davidson from EggCrackers with Karbon Homes’ Community Connector for Chester-le-Street,

Jenn said:” Letty is involved in so many community groups and she truly believes in her community and is passionate about the area, which is why I nominated her for the award.”

“It’s so socially relevant to have groups such as The Egg Crackers, society is catching up in terms of inclusivity and the mission statement of the group is also so clear – to make people feel welcome.

“A small group can have such a big impact, there is no price on peace of mind and feeling included and welcome, and that’s what this group does.”

Letty has many goals for the future with the main one focused on upskilling and working to get support worker qualifications and to receive further training in supporting neurodivergent members of the community.

If you would like to get involved, The Egg Crackers group meet every two weeks on a Tuesday from 1-3pm at REfUSE café in Chester-le-Street. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January, 23.