Cara-Friend Staff


Steve Williamson


Steve joined Cara-Friend as Director in 2007, and has overseen the growth of the organisation from a small local community association to a professional company, leading the field in LGB&T service provision regionally with involvement across Europe. Steve also sits on the Board of Black Mountain Zen Centre and was formally a Council Member of the Buddhist Network of Ireland. Steve is involved in cross-community work with working class youth in interface areas; and in his spare time pursues a lifelong passion for martial arts, travel and raising rare and exotic fish.




Declan Meehan

Deputy Director & Youth Development Manager

I joined the Cara-Friend team in September 2015. I am responsible for the management of the youth service within Cara-Friend, which aims to support LGB&T youth across Northern Ireland. I am a native of Milford, a small town in Donegal, so I understand the challenges of growing up as a young gay person in rural and small communities. I hope that will help me to help service users get the most from Cara-Friend LGB&T Youth. My day to day work involves overseeing the youth team in delivering the best LGB&T youth services possible, as well as advising schools and parents on issues around sexuality and gender orientation. I also meet on a one-to-one basis with young people who are having difficulty with their sexual and gender identity. With the help of funding from BBC Children in Need, I am also responsible for developing better mental health services and training specifically for LGB&T youth. As Deputy Director I represent Cara-Friend on the coalition of organisations that make up the campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland, Love Equality. I am a founder and director of ShoutOut, which is an anti-bullying programme for secondary schools across Ireland, aimed at tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. I love politics, theatre, cinema, food and the great outdoors!




Adam profile pic

Adam Murray

Community Development Manager & Office Manager

As Community Development Manager and Volunteer Co-ordinator at Cara-Friend my role is to provide training and support to LGB&T groups and to increase our service provision within Northern Ireland. My role involves organising training for the LGB&T sector, supporting LGB&T community groups and helping them to grow and succeed.

Cara-Friend has long been led by volunteers and it is my responsibility to ensure that they are trained up, well looked after and kept highly motivated.  There are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved within the organisation and I try very hard to find a role that suits each individual and their particular skill set.

I originally came to Cara-Friend through the youth service, which used to be called Gay & Lesbian Youth NI and is now Cara-Friend LGB&T Youth. I have been admin officer here for the past 8 years, it’s exciting to be taking on a new role with the organisation.

I try to be as active as I can both within the LGB&T community and within the trade union movement. My interests are largely in reading, travelling when I can, and being lazy playing video games in my down-time.

*The Community Development position is funded by the Belfast City Council Capacity Building Programme.

Belfast City Council 2015 (Master)


20151005_112328 (1)

Lee Cullen

Good Relations Officer

My role is to plan and carry out delivery of direct youth work to young people in Northern Ireland and the Good Relations brief of Cara-Friend, which focuses on improving community relations within the LGB&T community, as well as between our community and others. I have responsibility for the coordination of the Family Ties project on Cara-Friend’s behalf, which involves working with an amazing team of volunteers and some of our friends over in The Rainbow Project! I am currently working towards a degree in Law, and have diverse experience in youth work and building relations between other organisations.




Joanne McParland

Regional Youth Development Officer for Cara-Friend LGB&T Youth

Jo McParland is our Regional Development Youth Officer for Cara-Friend. She has been in post since October 2016. Jo has established and facilitates 5 regional groups in Armagh, Ballymena, Cookstown, Lisburn and Newry. These groups are places for young people to make new friends in a safe and friendly environment. Jo also conducts LGBTQ+ Awareness Training in School for staff and the Shout Out Workshop for students.
Jo hails from Armagh City, but now lives in Lisburn. In her spare time she enjoys keeping fit, by running, yoga and meditation, she has a passion for travelling and new adventures, and is a proud member of the Belfast Ukulele Jam.



Cara-Friend Board of Directors

Matt Leebody

Matt Leebody

Chair of Board of Trustees

Matt has volunteered within the LGB&T community for about 10 years, originally joining Cara-Friend as a one of the LGB&T Youth before standing for the Committee, on which he has served since. He is currently Chair of the Board of Directors.

Matt has always been passionate about getting as involved as he can be, whether that’s in general everyday management, new projects, recruitment, outreach and communications. He believes it is important that Cara-Friend continues to grow and make sure people know about our great services, fantastic staff and awesome volunteers.

He is a black belt karate practitioner with Irish Intervarsity medals to his name, and a fluent coder of programming and web languages. Matt enjoys creative multimedia, graphic design as well as being an amateur photographer.


Colin 1

Colin Flinn

Trustee, Board of Directors

Colin Flinn, a retired solicitor and  a volunteer with LGB&T Switchboard NI, and a volunteer with Queerspace Collective; he was formerly Hon Secretary of Cara-Friend, Facilitator of its Gay Helpline, Co-Chair of Belfast Out Resource Centre, Acting Secretary of L+ (for older LGB&T people), past Chair of the LGB&T Independent Advisory group to PSNI and a member of the LGB&T Reference Group to the Policing Board. He has been for some years the Hon Secretary of Out&About Walking Group.

His interest in the LGB&T sector is driven by his desire to advance the equal rights of LGB&T people, and to assure dignity and respect for all citizens here. He recognises the need to outreach to all sectors of society to break down prejudices through dissemination of information, engagement and dialogue.

He was one of 10 people whom the Equality Commission for N Ireland profiled in its publication “Real People”, Real Change” to mark 10 years since its formation. He is a member of the Equality Forum of Belfast City Council, and previously on Community Safety committees at the Council.

He is a board member of Community Change and Shopmobility Belfast, a member of the AgeNI’s Consultative Forum, and an Information Ambassador and Peer Facilitator with AgeNI. He is also a volunteer with NICRAS (NI Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers).

His other interests are biography, film, early music, local history, conservation, international and national current affairs, politics, mountaineering, photography, and cultural and faith diversity.


Stuart Kennedy

Trustee, Board of Directors

My name is Stuart Kennedy and I have been supporting the work of Cara-Friend for the past year and a half. I am a Senior Youth Worker (this is not age related) with the Belfast Education & Library Boards Inclusion & Diversity Unit. I am delighted to be a board member & I bring 25 years youth work experience to Cara-Friend’s Board. I have worked in Seattle, Denmark, Finland & Ghana as a youth worker.  In my distant past I was an International Athlete & I ran in 2 World Cross Country Championships in Poland & Switzerland. I am in training for the Boston Marathon & I hope to run for Ireland in the coming year as a master’s athlete. I coach for my local club Beechmount Harriers & I am the run director for the Falls Park run & jog West Belfast. I also organise events & in the past year I co-organised the Belfast Titanic Triathlon which was part of the World Police & Fire games & the Solstice city centre 5k among other events.


Sonya McMullan

Trustee, Board of Directors

Sonya manages the 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline in Northern Ireland which is managed by Women’s Aid Federation. She has been with Women’s Aid for 15 years and her experience includes training, support, supervision, management, whilst also being responsible for the operational and strategic management and governance of their helpline.

Sonya joined Cara-Friend’s Board of Directors last year. She is very busy in her line of work, developing accredited training programmes and training materials for Women’s Aid Helpline. She knows the importance of helplines and the support that they provide. Sonya is a very dedicated member of the Board and always commits to aiding the growth of our own LGBT Switchboard.

Upcoming Events

1:00 pm LGBT Switchboard NI
LGBT Switchboard NI
Mar 19 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
On Monday to Friday, from 1pm to 4pm, LGBT Switchboard NI operates it’s helpline and online chat support service. Call the Switchboard on 0808 8000 390, orRead More
7:00 pm BELFAST Cara-Friend LGBT Youth @ Belfast LGBT Centre,CQHQ
BELFAST Cara-Friend LGBT Youth @ Belfast LGBT Centre,CQHQ
Mar 19 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Cara-Friend LGBT Youth meets every Monday evening at the Belfast LGBT Centre from 6:00pm onwards.  If you would like more information about our activities, please contact theRead More
1:00 pm LGBT Switchboard NI
LGBT Switchboard NI
Mar 20 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
On Monday to Friday, from 1pm to 4pm, LGBT Switchboard NI operates it’s helpline and online chat support service. Call the Switchboard on 0808 8000 390, orRead More
1:00 pm LGBT Switchboard NI
LGBT Switchboard NI
Mar 21 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
On Monday to Friday, from 1pm to 4pm, LGBT Switchboard NI operates it’s helpline and online chat support service. Call the Switchboard on 0808 8000 390, orRead More

Cara-Friend on Facebook

Copyrights © Cara-Friend 2013 - 2014. All rights reserved.  :|  :T&Cs, Privacy & Cookie Policies