Paul Ryder and Marcus Cotterill will soon celebrate the fourth anniversary of LGBT+ Sparkle, a social group supporting LGBTQ communities in and around Wolverhampton.
After applying for commissioning from arts group Creative Black Country, the organisation received its first cheque towards two upcoming creative workshops – both of which became fully booked within two weeks.
Paul, who is neurodivergent, said he "never in a million years" thought the pair could start such a group, and thanked the Creative Black Country for making their projects possible.
The 38-year-old said: "We have both learnt so much from setting up the group for the good of the community. We have made new friends, new colleagues, we are more confident because we are making a difference together.
"Our projects were only possible through the commissioning from Creative Black Country. We are so grateful to them for supporting us and our projects and we a really looking forward to providing this creative opportunity to our community. We truly thank them."
Since starting the organisation, Paul said, he has grown "confident and proactive" – two challenges he faces as a neurodivergent person – thanks to the social group and his partner.
He said: "When we first set it up, Marcus and I thought 'What do we know?'. We just wanted to do something good for the community, and you don't know if you don't try. We are amazed and so happy to help our community.
"We have dedicated our heart and soul into this group to make the biggest difference we can."
Marcus, aged 51, added: "We have grown as people. Since we started the group, we have learnt a lot, not just about LGBT and minorities, but everything. We are great advocates for supporting these communities that are sometimes overlooked, and we are always fighting for equality for everyone."
The two workshops will see creative sessions with local artist Sophie Handy where participants will create picture frames and lanterns out of recycled material.
More information about the group and what they do can be found at consortium.lgbt/member-directory/lgbt-sparkle-social-group-wolverhampton/.