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Alice Andersen: Qtopia: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

‘Professional Aunty’ makes the world a kinder place

Passionate. Uplifting. Brilliant

For many young LGBTI+ people, group sessions at Qtopia are the only time they can be themselves.

Led by Executive Director and ‘Professional Aunty’ Alice Andersen, Qtopia offers young people a safe and welcoming place to meet in an environment where diversity is celebrated.

The Christchurch-based non-profit offers separate support groups for children under 12, teenagers and those over 18, as well as for parents and carers.

“I make a lot of cups of tea – I know all anyone really needs is a safe place where someone believes in them,” says Alice.

Qtopia has five hundred active members, with new members joining up every month.

“The need for what we do and the support we provide is growing. Qtopia is a vital lifeline for the LGBTI+ community,” says Alice.

Alice is delighted to be named a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s incredibly special to have the work that you are doing acknowledged by the community.

Hopefully, it means we are heading in the right direction,” she says. “We are so proud of the work we do, making the world a kinder place.”

Thanks to Alice, Qtopia also encourages greater acceptance of LGBTI+ people in the community.

She has developed and delivers diversity and inclusion workshops and provides community outreach programmes to schools. She is also a key member of a new Rainbow Coalition forming in Christchurch and has developed alliances with other national LGBTI+ youth service providers.

“I work hard with good people to effect positive change,” says Alice.
“We do that in a range of ways, whether it’s support, education or, most importantly, celebration.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Qtopia’s grant will provide welcome relief for ongoing operational costs.

“It’s going towards our event and venue costs for all our social support groups,” says Alice. “For us, it’s really important that we provide a safe and accessible inner-city space. Any resources that can be put towards that are hugely helpful.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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