After helping an LGBTQ+ young person break down career barriers, Louise Goux-Wirth has been named Mentor of the Year at the Just Like Us Awards 2023.

Hosted by Char Bailey and Megan Crabb, the awards recognised heroes in five categories: LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Corporate Volunteer of the Year, Mentor of the Year and Pride Group of the Year (sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co).

Just Like Us is the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity. The organisation is known for School Diversity Week, their annual UK-wide celebration of LGBTQ+ equality in schools and colleges.

The ceremony, which took place on 13 July, featured appearances from stars such as presenter and DJ Harriet Rose, Heartstopper’s Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie alum Layton Williams, singer-songwriter Låpsley, Paralympian gold-medalist Lauren Rowles, swimmer Michael Gunning, dancer and film director Shiva Raichandani, writer and activist Eva Echo, and the cast of I Kissed a Boy – the UK’s first-ever same-sex dating series.

Rising rapper Keanan also delivered a medley of his most beloved tracks including Obstacle, Exhale, Inhale, Country Boy and Ooh La La, as well as new single Butterscotch, which is due for release on 4 August.

Mentor of the Year was presented by Låpsley and Keanan, with the former telling the audience: “Having been a mentor myself to young people in the music industry, I know just how life-changing this programme can be. Mentors provide support, advice, helping them to gain skills, and giving them confidence to be their full authentic selves.”

Keanan added: “As artists, we both know how important it is to not hide our LGBT+ identities when we’re making music, performing or just being that representation that we never had growing up. Just Like Us often talks to young people about how being LGBT+ is nothing to be ashamed of, and I firmly believe that!”

Goux-Wirth said she’s “very excited” to win the award “because I know how important it is to have visible role models that are in your corner”: “Part of me thinks that LGBT+ young people today have it better, but in some ways they have it so much harder, and if I can do my bit to help then that makes me really happy.”

As part of the Just Like Us mentoring programme, which pairs LGBTQ+ youth with mentors for support and advice on how to thrive in their careers, Goux-Wirth was paired with a Just Like Us ambassador who said she “went above and beyond to make me feel safe and comfortable and supported”.

Outside of her work with Just Like Us, Goux-Wirth works in the charity sector and is an award-winning equality specialist. She supported her mentee to gain confidence and skills, helping her into a role in the charity sector.

“I would tell other individuals who want to be mentors to just go for it,” she continued. “You may think, ‘What have I got to offer?’ or ‘What difference will I make?’ But throughout the process you realise that you know more than you think you do, and even small pieces of advice can go a long way.”

Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, said: “Louise is an amazing mentor, and embodies exactly why we offer our mentor programme to ambassadors. The comments from her mentee show just how impactful having an LGBT+ career mentor can be.

“We know that LGBT+ young people face barriers in entering the workplace, and struggle to access equal opportunities once there, but having a mentor and role model who has overcome those barriers is invaluable in ensuring they can have a happy and successful career.”

The Just Like Us Awards were sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

GAY TIMES was the official media partner.