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Gay volunteer up for achievement award (from

A 22-year-old who helped establish an innovative support network for young lesbian and bisexual women in Scotland has been nominated for a national achievement award.

Janet Direen is in line to win the prestigious Whitbread Young Achiever Award for her work with Fusion, part of the LGBT Youth Scotland network, which worked to offer more help for young gay women. Janet, who is based in Edinburgh, launched the project in a bid to tackle homophobic bullying aimed at women and to help them reconnect with school, where they may have felt estranged.

Additionally, she produced two performances of the famous Vagina Monologues using lesbian and bisexual woman who were under 26 years old.

Janet was sponsored by LGBT Youth Scotland's Anne Marriott, after she volunteered for the group. Ms Marriott said she felt Janet should receive the award because of her hard work and ingenuity, as well as her passion to help others.

"Janet managed to access funds from the City of Edinburgh council and supported the women, most of who had no experience of performing, by organising publicity, tickets and set design," she said. "The performances were superb. The result was an audience of 400 people to see the shows, plus increased confidence and personal development for all involved."

Janet is in the long-list of the Whitbread awards, which are designed to recognise the hard work of young people across the country. She has been nominated in the Community category; other categories are the arts, environment and sport. The final short list will be unveiled tomorrow, with the winners and runners-up attending a star-studded ceremony later this year.

The winner will receive the first prize of £2000 in cash, £250 in leisure vouchers and a package of 'money can't buy' opportunities. The money, along with a 12-month follow-on support programme, is given by Whitbread to allow the winners to further develop their projects.