Local Work in Leicester
In the first year of operation activities consisted of supporting lesbians in Leicester - lesbian coffee bar, young lesbian group, lesbians with phobias group, lesbian library, lesbian newsletter and conducting research into Lesbians and Housing in Leicester. (Annual Report. 1987-88) After experiencing discrimination at the Leicester Women's Centre (who did not want a strong lesbian visibility at the Centre) and later at the Leicester Lesbian and Gay Centre (who did not want separate lesbian groups) and with the introduction of section 28 of the Local Government Act and withdrawal of financial support for the work by Leicester City Council, LIS began to develop the local newsletter into a national publication - LISN (Lesbian Information Service Newsletter).
Lesbian Information Service Newsletter (LISN)
LISN was produced for two-and-a-half years and at its height had around 500 subscribers (individuals and women's organisations). At first LISN was women-only but, as our politics became more and more radical (in response to discrimination), LISN became lesbian-only and politically moved from radical feminist politics to lesbian separatism. During 1989 the title changed to Lesbian International and was now distributed internationally. However, the radical politics meant that subscriptions declined and the last issue was published in June 1990, some six months after LIS had moved with the founders to Todmorden in West Yorkshire. (Annual Reports 1988-89; 1989-90) Young Lesbian Research
In 1990 Lancashire County Council employed Jan Bridget to conduct research into the needs of young lesbians in East Lancashire. Not long after the project was underway it, and Jan Bridget, was attacked by local media for several weeks as a 'looney left' project. County Hall reacted to this by placing homophobic restrictions on the work. This resulted in a final report being written about the homophobic response of the local media and County Hall instead of one detailing the results of the in-depth interviews with thirteen Iesbians. (Annual Report 1990-91) LlS decided to continue with the research independently and widened the net until 20 lesbians, 17 aged 25 years and below, the other three being older but having identified as lesbian in their youth, had been interviewed. The findings were shocking:
* 85% had experienced depression
* 45% periods of anxiety
* 70% had attempted suicide, of the remainder (6) three had contemplated it. This included a total of 41 attempts;
* 55% abused themselves in other ways, e.g. cutting up with razor blades, banging fist against the wall, putting fist through window, biting chunks out of self, throwing self against wall/down stairs
* all but three used alcohol and 50% had serious alcohol problems e.g. heavy drinking, passing out under the influence of alcohol, hospitalization, suicide attempts whilst under the influence of alcohol, getting arrested for drunkeness
* 50% had used illegal drugs
* 65% smoked
* 55% had been homeless
* 50% had been sexually abused or raped
As a result of the research several new LIS projects were established and the politics of the organisation changed: the research helped us to identify problems with both radical feminism and lesbian separatism both of which, we believed, were intrinsically classist, racist and homophobic. LIS was now guided by a Multi-Oppression Framework, taking into account that we can experience several layers of oppression depending on our sexual orientation, gender, class, ethnicity, disability, age. New projects included: Vox Pop, the Jenny Smith Campaign, LYSIS (Lesbian Youth Support Information Service), and LAP (Lesbians and Alcohol Project). Some of the research findings are detailed in the LYSIS Report, 1995 and Lesbian Youth Support Information Service (LYSIS) Developing a Distance Support Service.
Vox Pop was a nation-wide National Youth Agency project the aim of which was to give young people a voice and access to politicians. LIS worked alongside Lancashire Youth & Community Service (Blackburn & Darwen District) with a group of young lesbians taking part in the project. This included organising a weekend residential and enabling the participants to identify what issues were facing them as young lesbians. A report was written and sent to various local and national politicians and organisations. (Vox Pop).
Jenny Smith Campaign
Having seen a report about Jenny Smith (not her real name), a young woman imprisoned for allegedly impersonating a man and having a sexual relationship with another young woman, LIS contacted Jenny's solicitor and Jan visited Jenny in New Hall and Styal Prisons for several months. We encouraged Jenny to change to a lesbian solicitor in London who put her in touch with a gay barrister. LIS worked alongside Jenny's legal representation and the Probation Service which resulted in her release from prison at the Appeal Court in 1991, she had served nine months of a six year prison sentence. LIS also set up a fund to provide financial support for Jenny while she was in prison; many lesbians contributed to the fund, not least lesbians from the Netherlands and Germany. Jenny's story has yet to be told, but that is up to her to decide. (Annual Report 1991-92)
Lesbian Youth Support Information Service (LYSIS)
LYSIS was set up in l99l as a direct response to the young lesbian research. It offered a national helpline, correspondence oounselling, information (i think i might be a lesbian...now what do i do? Young Lesbian Coming Out Pack), advocacy and a pen-pal scheme (peer support). LYSIS received a bronze certificate signed by HM The Queen for its services as part of the celebrations for the Accession to the Throne. LYSIS ran for seven years receiving funding from the Mental Health Foundation for the period 1995-1997. During this time thousands of isolated young lesbians around Britain received support. After Sandra Lucille left LIS at the end of 1996, and funding from the Mental Health Foundation ran out in 1997, we had to close down LYSIS and handed over the pen-pal scheme, which had over 300 members, to another voluntary organisation in 1998. (Annual Reports 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993--94, LYSIS Report 1995, Mental Health Foundation Interim Report 1996, Mental Health Foundation Final Report 1997, Mental Health Foundation Summary Report 1997, Lesbian Youth Support Information Service (LYSIS): Developing a Distance Support Agency for Young Lesbians.
Lesbian and Gay Youth and Mental Health
During this period LYSIS and LIS campaigned on behalf of lesbian and gay youth to get national and local organisations to take on board their needs especially around mental health; organisations such as the National Youth Agency, Trust for the Study of Adolescence, MIND, Samaritans as well as youth services around the country. In order to promote research into the mental health needs of lesbian gay and bisexual youth LIS set up a national advisory group ESTEEM, which was made up of psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers, face-to-face workers. With the end of the MHF funding and an unsuccessful Lottery bid, ESTEEM stopped meeting. Nevertheless a network of concerned professionals was established and the profile of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and mental health was raised. Workshops and inputs were given at various national conferences (Lectures/Key-note Speeches/Workshops) and LIS produced several relevant publications National Youth Agency Electoral College, A Painful Process: How Accessible is the Youth Service to Minority Youth? Hidden but not Forgotten: Lesbian and Gay Youth; Lesbian and Gay Youth; Young Lesbians and Attempted Suicide - A Hidden Problem; Lesbians, Gays and Education; Parents of Lesbians and Gays; Working with Lesbian and Gay Youth.
Lesbians and Alcohol Project (LAP)
The Lesbians and Alcohol Project was set up by a grant from the Alcohol Education and Research Council. As part of the project a survey of alcohol treatment agencies in north west England (Alcohol Questionnaire) was conducted and a Report produced, as well as a Lesbians and Alcohol Resource List. Workshops and inputs were given at relevant conferences. (Lectures/Key-note Speeches/Workshops, Lesbians and Alcohol). Funding from Comic Relief enabled the booklet Lesbians and Alcohol Misuse: A Guide to Alcohol Workers to be produced, the Lesbians. Gays and Alcohol Resource List up-dated and the Treatment of Lesbians with Alcohol Problems in Alcohol Treatment Services in North West England Report reprinted; copies of all three documents were distributed to all alcohol treatment agencies in England and Wales. With the remaining funds from the Comic Relief grant LIS organised the first national Lesbians, Gays and Alcohol Conference at the University of Manchester in June l 999. Approximately 50 participants attended the conference from agencies (alcohol and lesbian and gay organisations) from all over Britain. Evaluation of the conference suggested that it was a huge success. The conference coincided with Alcohol Concern developing a series of networks (Networking Distance Neighbours) which, because of the conference, included the establishment of a Network for organisations working with lesbians and gays around alcohol issues. Copies of the Conference Report are available via Alcohol Concern, who also produce updates. LIS has gone some way to get this issue on the agenda of both national and local alcohol agencies as well as funding bodies.
Age of Consent
LIS took part in the national campaign to reduce the age of consent for young men writing to MPs and Bishops. (Age of Consent).
As well as pursuing different projects, LIS continued to provide an information service to thousands of callers including young and older lesbians, partners and parents of lesbians, ex-spouses, teachers, doctors, nurses, people working in the fields of youth, mental health, alcohol, advice and counselling. Hundreds of agencies around Britain contacted LIS for information. Due to lack of funding, LIS no longer offers a counselling and information service. (Annual Report 1987-88; Annual Report 1988-89; Annual Report 1989- 90; Annual Report 1990-1991; Annual Report 1991-1992; Annual Report 1992-1993; Annual Report 1993-1994). In order to support the Information Service LIS produced a whole range of publications (Black and Minority Ethnic Lesbians; Lesbians, Coming Out and Identitv Development; Lesbian Relationships; Lesbians Who Are Mothers; Old Lesbians; Lesbians and Health Care; Lesbians, Mental Health and Therapy; Lesbians, Gays and Social Work; as well as a number of papers: Lesbians Coming Out in Later Life; An Altemative Response to the Gay Gene Discovery; Identity Stages; Social Work; Lesbians and Mental Health. These are now available free via this Website. In order to challenge homophobia and to raise awareness of the needs of lesbians and gays, in particular, lesbian and gay young people, we also give lectures, workshops and develop training programmes.
ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale
Without funding, and with only one volunteer, it seemed likely that LIS would be forced to close. However, Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority provided funding for a half-time salary for one year (March 1998-February 1999). The worker moved to Halifax and most of the work had to concern local issues something which, because of lack of funding, had previously been avoided. The Homophobia Awareness Training Module was adapted to a Coming Out Course for Lesbians. ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale, an inter-agency group consisting of Lesbian Information Service, Calderdale Health Promotion Centre, MSM (HIV/AIDS prevention) and Community Education was set up during this period. LIS had successfully applied for funding to conduct research into the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in Calderdale. The ACTION questionnaire which had been used in the earlier research with young lesbians was adapted and fifteen lesbian gay and bisexual people aged 30 years and below who either lived or grew up in Calderdale took part in in-depth interviews. A survey of over 40 agencies was conducted. ACTION Situation Report 1998 ,LIS (Halifax) Report 1999; ACTION for Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Young People in Calderdale, Research Report, 1999. The results of this research were disseminated first through a one day seminar attended by approximately 40 individuals/agencies and then via publication and distribution of the ACTION Report.
Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale (GALYIC)
As a result of the ACTION research, GALYIC, Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale, a youth support group, was set up with support from Lesbian Information Service and Community Education. Funding was acquired to produce a booklet (aimed at face-to-face workers who work with young people in Calderdale): Supporting Lesbians Gay and Bisexual Young People in Calderdale, LIS End of Year Report, 1999, Homophobia Awareness from a Multi-Oppression Perspective, Course Evaluation, 1999; ACTION for Lesbian and Gay Youth in Calderdale Annual Report 2000.
Calderdale Lesbian and Gay Inter Agency Group
Alongside the establishment of GALYIC in July 1999, the Calderdale Lesbian and Gay Inter Agency Group (IAG) was set up. The purpose of the IAG was to encourage agencies within Calderdale to become appropriate and accessible to lesbian, gay and bisexual young people. There was a core membership of around twenty agencies which met four times a year. As a result of funding becoming available under the Calderdale & Kirklees Health Authority (Health Improvement Plan), it was agreed to widen the remit of the IAG to include lesbian and gay people of all ages. Galyic Annual Report 2001. The Homophobia Awareness from a Multi-Opression Perspective module has been run twice with workers from a variety of agencies across Calderdale in attendance; the aim is that at least one worker from every relevant agency in Calderdale will have attended the course; course attendees often then attend the Inter Agency Group. The Inter Agency Group met for three years. It stopped meeting in 2002. It's role has been partly taken over by the GALYIC Steering Group.
Lesbian and Gay Health Action
GALYIC acquired funding from Calderdale & Kirklees Health Authority and Calderdale Involvement Project to conduct homophobia awareness training and organise a one-day conference on Lesbians, Gays and Mental Health ; to set up a Lesbian and Gay Health Task Group, conduct relevant literature reviews, organise a lesbian and gay health event (Calderdale Lesbian and Gay Pride), and prepare a Lesbian and Gay Health Action Plan. The aim was to submit the Plan to the Calderdale Primary Care Group with the intention of it informing future health planning. However, a funding bid to complete the Plan was not successful.
Lesbians, Gays and Mental Health Task Group
Following on from the one day Lesbians, Gays and Mental Health conference a Lesbians, Gays and Mental Health Task Group was set up. It consisted of representatives of Mental Health Services in Calderdale and service users. The aim was to encourage accessible and relevant mental health services for LGBT people in Calderdale. This is not currently meeting.
Comic Relief Funding for GALYIC
GALYIC successfully acquired a substantial grant (£62,000) from Comic Relief. This has enabled the work with lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Calderdale to develop significantly. GALYIC now have their own website: www.galyic.org.uk and have acquired an office in central Halifax. The youth group meets at a central location which offers the usual youth club activities of pool, table-tennis, darts, games, videos, discussions, trips. Frequent get-togethers with other LGBT youth groups in West Yorkshire and the North West are developing.
GALYIC Publicity Campaign
A grant of £5,000 from Communities Against Drugs enabled GALYIC to launch a publicity campaign which included new flyers aimed at workers, cards for young people, laminated posters, and an advert on the side of 11 buses which is an adaptation of an advert the LGB youth group in Leicester designed. It shows a picture of a young woman drinking a pint with the words: 'Are you coming OUT tonight? Don't get your courage in a bottle.' Then 'Why not contact GALYIC, Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale - 01422.320099?' The publicity campaign has been very successful in giving GALYIC a higher profile: it has been a wonderfully affirming experience (for both the workers and members) to see the advert on the side of the buses in different parts of Calderdale and even in Huddersfield and further afield.
GALYIC Web Site
Two members of GALYIC have redesigned the GALYIC website. It is impressive with sections on: Publications (aimed at supporting young LGBT people); E-mail counselling; Pen Friends; Bullying; Homophobic Hate Crime; Housing; Other Local Groups; Press (lesbian and gay media); Switchboards; Parents; Workers; Research; GALYIC History; News Archive; Contact Us; and Links. Feedback is excellent - it is accessible, informative and attractive.
GALYIC Seal of Approval
A significant percentage of GALYIC members have diverse needs related to mental health, housing, coming out/being found out. GALYIC is run by qualified youth and community workers who cannot respond to all of these needs and must be able to refer members to other agencies for support. Because of this, we have begun an outreach programme working with relevant agencies and/or individuals within agencies to enable them to be able to respond to the needs of members. We have devised a "GALYIC Seal of Approval." It is important to make a distinction between individuals and agencies: we would not refer a vulnerable member to an agency just because one of the workers is aware and gay-friendly (or, indeed, just because it is a gay organisation). We would refer to that specific individual. To date we have awarded the "GALYIC Seal of Approval" to a handful of individuals whom we know and trust and to agencies who are willing to undergo training and amend their policies and procedures. In order to obtain the Seal, we must know that an individual or organisation has relevant experience, training, is gay-friendly and has appropriate policies and procedures. We publicise those who receive the award on the GALYIC website and will be encouraging recipients to include it in their publicity.
As GALYIC was the only LGB voluntary organisation in Calderdale and work needs to be developed with LGB people of all ages, GALYIC has set up a new organisation: LOGIC (Lesbian or Gay in Calderdale including Bisexuals and Transpeople). LOGIC is a company limited by guarantee and is currently applying for charitable status. The aim is that LOGIC will become an umbrella organisation which identifies gaps in provision, applies for funding, sets up and manages projects. Due to insufficient involvement, LOGIC was closed in 2003.
GALYIC Steering Group
GALYIC now have a successful Steering Group made up of representatives from other, relevant, organisations including: Calderdale Youth Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Youth Information Shop, Social Services, NSPCC, and Calderdale Supported Lodging Scheme, as well as GALYIC members. It is hoped to acquire company limited and charity status within the near future.
Connexions Funding for GALYIC
GALYIC have been awarded a capacity grant from West Yorkshire Connexions of £30,000 for a year. This will enable us to employ an Office Administrator, acquire office and training equipment, develop policies, complete the Lesbian and Gay Health Action Plan and conduct further outreach with local agencies.
Outreach with Local Agencies
Initially, outreach with local agencies was achieved through the Inter Agency Group and the Homophobia Awareness training module. The training module is run every year and has now been run in Halifax four times. GALYIC responds to requests to take part in local events, such as health days. Whilst these raise the profile of GALYIC with members of the public and other agencies, something more proactive is needed to encourage other agencies to work with GALYIC. Consequently an outreach programme has been set up. This entails getting invitations to relevant team meetings and encouraging agencies, whenever possible, to take up homophobia awareness training. So far, GALYIC have given talks to the Family Planning Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, NSPCC, Mental Health Day Services, Social Services Outreach Team, Youth Works (detached youth work project in Halifax town centre), Youth Information Shop and Calderdale College Student Services. Whenever possible, participants are asked to complete a Training Needs Assessment questionnaire, which is then used to argue the need for further training. The offer of further training was taken up by the NSPCC and four very useful training sessions were conducted.
Homophobic Hate Crime Task Group
GALYIC also acquired funding from Calderdale Community Safety Partnership to set up a Homophobic Hate Crime Task Group, employ a researcher to conduct a literature review and a survey of homophobic hate crime in Calderdale. The findings (Homophobic Hate Crime in Calderdale) were disseminated to relevant agencies at a half-day seminar.
As a result of this, a funding bid has been submitted to the Home Office to develop CHIC (Combating Homophobia in Calderdale). If successful this will include three aspects:
1. Challenging homophobic attitudes and bullying in schools and with youth offenders;
2. Providing homophobia awarensss training for relevant agencies, e.g. the Police, Crime Prosecution Service, Victim Support, Magistrates, Probation Service, Youth Offending Team, Calderdale Community Safety Partnership, etc,
3. Developing support services for the victims of homophobic hate crime.
The bid to the Home Office was unsuccessful. The reason given was that it was not seen as a priority.
P.C. Ian Firth, the local policeman with responsibility for hate crime in Calderdale has organised several meetings between GALYIC, the Police, Victim Support and the Calderdale MBC Racial Harassment Officer. As a result of this GALYIC have provided training for Victim Support who are about to be awarded the "GALYIC Seal of Approval." Staff and volunteers have undergone three training sessions and are currently working on amending their policies and publicity. One of their volunteers, an out lesbian, has agreed to become their 'dedicated specialist' so that victims of homophobic hate crime can ask to see her, she has recently attended a Homophobia Awareness from a Multi-Oppression Perspective training module. It is hoped that Victim Support will acquire funding to set up a support group for victims of homophobic hate crime.
The GALYIC Project Co-ordinator has just completed a report: "Preventing Homophobic Bullying in Calderdale Schools." The report will be launched in May. A draft copy hs been sent to the House of Lords in the hope that it will be helpful in repealing section 28 of the Local Government Act. It is also hoped the report will facilitate the introduction of anti-homophobia measures in schools in Calderdale, although it is acknowledged that this will be a long and slow process.
The GALYIC Project Co-ordinator gave a presentation on Homophobic Hate Crime in Calderdale at the launch of a new Victim Support Language Telephone Hate Crime Service. Currently in Calderdale there is a Racial Harassment Officer and a Racial Harassment Multi-Agency Panel which has conducted a high profile campaign over the past year. This Panel meets a few times a year and consists of senior management from several statutory and voluntary organisations. There is also a Hate Crime Case Study Group which meets monthly and reviews hate incidents and police procedure (although there are no representatives from the LGBT community ). Calderdale have, to date, put a lot of time, money and energy into tackling Racist Hate Crime and not very much into tackling Homophobic Hate Crime. GALYIC have suggestd 1) that the Panel becomes the Racial and Homophobic Harassent Multi-Agency Panel, 2) that the Case Study Group divides into two: one to deal with Racist Hate Crime and the other with Homophobic Hate Crime, 3) that members of the LGBT community are invited to join the Case Study Group; 4) that the Case Study Group looks at ways of tackling Homophobic Hate Crime in Calderdale, and 5) that Calderdale employs a Homophobic Harassment Officer.
Calderdale have also launched nearly 40 hate crime reporting centres; GALYIC have recently agreed to become one of these centres specifically for young people aged 25 years and below.
Hate Incident Reporting Centre
GALYIC is now a Hate Incident Reporting Centre. Calderdale Community Safety Partnership are to launch a publicity campaign aimed at raising awareness about racial and homophobic hate crime. The new posters, which will include the Racial Harassment Officer's telephone number as well as the GALYIC telephone number, will be displayed on the side of buses, at railway stations and elsewhere. GALYIC are looking at adapting the Safe in South Yorkshire website to add to the GALYIC website to give information about homophobic hate crime and provide on-line reporting facilities. Alongside the Police and Calderdale Pink Parents, GALYIC organised a public meeting in Todmorden to look at setting up a new Homophobic Hate Incident Task Group, facilitate LGBT community to share any examples of homophobic hatred and to give an up-date on progress made by the Police, Victim Support and Calderdale Community Safety Partnership. Fifteen people attended the event and it was agreed to set up a new task group which will meet again at the end of January 2004.
Work with Schools
A report: "Preventing Homophobic Bullying in Calderdale Schools" has been published and launched by GALYIC at Halifax Town Hall in May. The report includes research, young people talking about their experiences, effects of homophobic bullying and isolation, projects tackling it, response by the Crime Prosecution Service, and resources. GALYIC liaised with Safer Schools Coalition in the USA to adapt some of their resources for use in Calderdale.
Over fifty people attended the event and speakers included: member of GALYIC who had experienced homophobic bullying; mother of a young man who was experiencing homophobic bullying; the police; the Crown Prosecution Service; Calderdale Schools Improvement Service. The report has been well received and, as a result, a meeting held with the Schools Improvement Service and a promise that homophobic bullying will be included in the revised schools anti-bullying policy as well as the new healthy schools strategy.
As a result of the report an article appeared in the Winter edition of UK Youth and the Project Co-ordinator ran a workshop at the NUT conference in London in November 2003.
A presentation on homophobic bullying was given to the Board of Governors at Todmorden High School. GALYIC are to arrange a meeting with representatives of the governors, parents, teachers, mentors and other interested parties to discuss possible ways forward.
Lesbian and Gay Health Plan
Work on the plan has continued and the following sections have been completed: Mental Health, Alcohol & Drugs, Sexual Health. However, rather than producing a lesbian and gay health plan, it has been decided to produce a series of reports on individual topics and launch them separately so as to maximise impact on that particular theme.
QuaY WestY (Queer and Young in West Yorkshire)
For several years now the various LGB youth groups in West Yorkshire have organised local events and invited the other groups to attend. GALYIC organised the Christmas party in 2001 and 2002 when over 50 young people from around West Yorkshire attended both events. In order to develop this work further, GALYIC organised an initial meeting between the groups to set up a network and it is hoped that funding from Connexions West Yorkshire will be acquired to employ a West Yorkshire LGBT Equalities Officer to help develop the network, to train Connexions Personal Advisers and to ensure Connexions West Yorkshire include young LGB people in their Equality and Diversity strategy.
The GALYIC Project Co-ordinator has taken part in the following consultations: Department of Health (External LGB Advisory Group); Department of Trade and Industry (Equality Commission and EU Article 13 - Employment); Home Office (Same-Sex Domestic Violence).