The participants, aged from 13-22 came from all areas of the country, including Whangarei, Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Masterton, Marlborough, Nelson, Christchurch, Ashburton and Dunedin.
An additional 14 young people under 22 were in roles as volunteers and another 44 people were involved throughout the weekend volunteering in various roles.
Josh Blacklaws from Fairfield College says Shift Hui is a safe space for teenagers of the LGBTQI+ community to learn and discover themselves. âIt was here that I met so many amazing people of diverse sexualities, races, genders and more.
âIt is here that I felt truly accepted in an entirety for who I was by all, and where I learnt so much about myself and our community. I can't wait to implement all these new ideas and strategies in my school and educate others on what I have learnt.â
The hui hosted a wide range of workshops covering a range of things including sharing stories about identities such as takatÄpui and intersex to learning about healthy relationships, leadership and running groups.
âThere was also a series of workshops of more practical skills and activities, such as how to change a tyre or tie a tie, voguing and creative writing,â says Besley.
âIt was incredible to see the confidence and support that grew around the young people who attend Shift throughout the weekend. Many of them came in extremely anxious but something had definitely 'shifted' in them by the end.
âWe had families asking 'what did you do to my child?' as they didn't recognise the talkative, bouncy, smiling people they picked up to take home. Being in a space like this where you are fully accepted and free to be yourself, surrounded by like-minded people is pretty powerful.â
Besley says in addition to the individual growth that happened to lots of participants at Shift, âMany will be going home planning to set up or take leadership roles within groups in their schools and communities and spread what they have learnt in their own regions.â
One such young person was Tobias who says âThe things I was wearing at Shift were things I could never have dreamed of wearing at home comfortably till now.
âI've even made progress with my mum and have a haircut booked for tomorrow! Being at Shift didn't just give me learning, confidence and friends, it gave me a family I could be happy in. It gave me a family that I was proud to be part of, and for me personally that's a big step, having a place to feel accepted for who I am.â
InsideOUT has big plans for the future and aims to be able to run Shift in the North and South islands, to create an event which is accessible for people across the country. She notes that finding funding to sustain Shift Hui over the years will be the next challenge.