LGBTQ+ project launch a success

LGBTQ+ project launch a success

The LGBTQ+ Health Inclusion Project’s launch event attracted a healthy crowd of people interested in joining the self-advocacy groups and learning more about the needs of those it aims to support. It took place on Thursday 6th June at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, welcoming guest speakers and featuring personal stories.

It was launched by Alison Lowe, Chief Executive of Touchstone. Alison’s talk saw her roll out a series of stats, the most pressing being that around half of LGBTQ+ people have experienced depression within the last year, and that one in seven avoid seeking healthcare for fear of being discriminated against. She rounded off by saying that advocacy is an important and statutory right.

Clare Silverleaf, our LGBTQ+ Health Inclusion Project Coordinator, introduced the project. She reeled off more stats around autistic people accessing gender identity clinics and mental health difficulties among the local LGBTQ+ community. Clare then went on to talk about barriers, such as difficulties in being heard, then moved on to knowing what LGBTQ+ people can access.

Rosie Ellingham, a Project Worker with Yorkshire MESMAC, mentioned the need to make health services more accessible to LGBTQ+ people who have a learning disability, mental health difficulties or who are autistic. This is at the heart of what our project is all about.

Personal stories

We then had four personal stories from LGBTQ+ people who are either autistic, have a learning disability or mental health difficulties. Clare was first up, taking about not feeling comfortable about accessing services.

She was followed by Gill Loomes, the project’s Evaluator. Gill read from a chapter she wrote in Girls and Autism: Educational, Family and Personal Perspectives, which focused on being autistic while experiencing adolescence and sexuality. She touched on her own experience whilst exploring her sexuality, including being told to follow social norms.

A video from CHANGE’s project worker Shaun Webster was shown, having been recorded earlier in the week. You can watch Shaun’s video below:

Finally, performance poet Beth Rose performed one of her pieces – Dear Body. It was all about body image and went down really well with everyone in the venue.

What happens next?

Starting in August, the project will be running two self-advocacy courses – one for LGBTQ+ people with learning disabilities and the other for LGBTQ+ people who are autistic and/or have mental health difficulties. We will publish the dates of these courses and how to get involved soon.

We will also be providing training for health and care professionals who work with people from those communities. On top of that, we will be offering one-to-one peer support from someone who is LGBTQ+ themselves.

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the courses, please contact us by email at lgbtinclusion@advonet.org.uk.

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