As a rural county without a large urban centre Cheshirestruggles with LGB&T visibility and transport around the county can be a problem. It is perceived to be a wealthy place, despite there being pockets of deprivation.
Engagement with LGB&T populations through voluntary and community groups does work, but relatively few groups exist. The public sector needs to be aware that if LGB&T engagement is difficult it does not mean there are no LGB&T issues or no LGB&T population in Cheshire.
Transforming Cheshire East for LGB&T People 2013
In October 2013 we worked together with ASK and CVS Cheshire East to explore the local LGB&T community to find out what it’s like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans in Cheshire East and how local voluntary and community sector (VCS) infrastructure could be improved.
As part of this we mapped existing research and information, carried out a community survey, collected case examples of LGB&T inclusion in the VCS, and held two learning events for local commissioners and decisionmakers, and VCS organisations.
The main findings and recommendations are summarised below and you can download the full report here. This also includes some commitments from public sector and VCS in terms of taking this work forward.
There is very little available research and information about LGB&T people, their needs and experiences.
Many LGB&T people taking part in our surveys did not feel part of a LGB&T community in Cheshire East but refered to Manchester as a popular place to socialise in.
Some respondents were involved in community activity in Cheshire East, but more wanted to be involved, and felt that more support was needed for LGB&T community activity in Cheshire East.
Experience of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime was common, but reporting was not.
VCS organisations welcome LGB&T employees, volunteers and service users and want to meet the needs of the LGB&T community but do not necessarily adopt consistent strategies to achieving this with only a small proportion engaging in sexual orientation or gender identity monitoring.
Local Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and Health and Wellbeing Strategies currently do not address LGB&T issues, needs and experiences in any meaningful way even though LGB&T populations are disproportionately affected by top public health issues such as poor mental health, sexually transmitted infections, smoking and problematic drug and alcohol use.
Recommendations for VCS Organisations
Monitor sexual orientation and gender identity across the board.
Ensure all staff are trained on LGB&T issues and needs.
Make evidence relating to LGB&T people publicly available.
Develop support services and social groups specifically targeting LGB&T people.
Promote LGB&T specific dates, events and activities
Additional Recommendations for Public Sector Organisations
Embed a requirement for sexual orientation and gender identity monitoring in all contracting and funding arrangements.
Consider the specific health and wellbeing needs of LGB&T people in the development of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and Health and Wellbeing Strategies.
Ensure that all public services have clear strategies for LGB&T inclusion.
Provide funding for LGB&T specific support services and social groups.
Breaking the Cycle Roadshow 2010
What did Cheshire say?
“What is “inclusion”? What are we trying to make people feel included to?”
“Make the Strategy into a tool, not just a list of recommendations.”
“Recommendations are useful, but what about the legal requirements that organisations have to comply by?”
“Is there an effective way to map the Strategy into local government equality standards such as Equality Frameworks and World Class Commissioning?”
“The document is too focused on the LGF itself, not the broader sector.”
“Plainer English would be better.”
“Senior management buy in is essential.
“Could the strategy give more tips on how people can empower themselves to make change happen?”
How will Cheshire use the Strategy?
- Use contacts from Roadshow event for support and information.
- Try and get some points included in the Commissioning Cycle.
- Use strategy to get Local Authority to see what services they are willing to provide.
- Use contacts from event to share best practice.
- Speak to management re: benefits of recommendations for service users.
- Try and link it in with existing internal documents.