The Isaac Hitchen Project

Publish Date: 15/08/2013

Spotlight on The Isaac Hitchen Project

The Isaac Hitchen project began in December 2012, and works across the whole of Lancashire with and for LGB&T communities. The aim of the project is to increase social inclusion, improve mental health and wellbeing for LGB&T people as well as to increase the active involvement and influence of LGB&T people in their communities and improve awareness of the needs of LGB&T people with service providers.

Lancashire LGBT named the Isaac Hitchen project after one of a group of five men from Warrington who were hanged at Lancaster Prison in 1806 for the offence of sodomy. Isaac Hitchen refused the offer of a reprieve in return for information that would incriminate others.

 We interview Lewis Turner, Project Manager at The Isaac Hitchen project...

What does a usual day entail?

“This role requires multi-tasking! I am responsible for the delivery of the project outcomes for the Big Lottery as well as managing a fantastic team of 4 people – so there is a lot of planning, discussion and paperwork involved. My day also involves networking with outside agencies, looking at partnership working opportunities and putting in funding bids for other projects as we identify needs.

I also have to deal with the increasing number of complex enquiries we are getting – both from community members, as well as professionals, asking advice on how to support LGB&T people they are working with.

Other members of the team are out and about doing community engagement work, recruiting volunteers and organising training as well as admin. As we say in this project ‘never a dull moment’!”

What is the best part of your job?

“All of it – it’s a dream job! It is great to have the opportunity to work with and for LGB&T people in Lancashire – particularly the most vulnerable and isolated.  I also work with such an enthusiastic team”

Your most memorable moment for the project?

“So far I think our launch – we had some inspiring speakers and incredible support from people working in the public, private and voluntary sectors. There was a really positive mood in the room.”

What is your biggest challenge?

“There are lots of challenges in this work but I would say the biggest is raising and maintaining awareness of the needs of LGB&T people –arguably some of  the most neglected, least popular and least prioritised of the ‘equality strands’.

What or who inspired you?

“I have been inspired by many people I have worked with in this field over the years – particularly campaigners and people working in equalities. But my biggest inspiration has been from Stephen Whittle and Christine Burns who I worked with in Press for Change  - campaigning for respect and equality for all trans people. They taught me it is possible to be passionate as well as professional and pragmatic – and how being respectful towards those who don’t share your views goes a long way in building bridges.”

Your plans for the future of the project?

“This is just the beginning! We have funding from the Big Lottery until November 2015 but there is so much work that needs to be done across Lancashire. We are looking at future funding and commissioning so that we can continue working with and for the LGB&T communities.”

For more information and volunteering opportunities visit www.lancslgbt.org.uk; www.facebook.com/IsaacHitchenProjector follow them on Twitter @LancsLGBT