With funding from Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority, Calderdale Community Foundation and the Rural Development Commission, ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) Youth in Calderdale, an inter-agency group including Lesbian Information Service, Calderdale Health Promotion and Calderdale Community Education, developed a research project into the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Calderdale alongside a survey of provision made by statutory and voluntary agencies.
The project discovered that LGB young people in Calderedale had specific needs which were, on the whole, not being met by the agencies. The Research Report made a series of recommendations, one of which was to provide training for workers.
Lesbian Information Service applied to Calderdale & Kirklees Health Authority small grants scheme (HIV/AIDS, Sexual Health) for £500 to run a module (ten sessions of two hours per session).
Details about the course were sent to over 40 voluntary and statutory agencies in Calderdale and two press releases made which resulted in positive coverage in the Halifax Courier. Booking forms were designed and distributed to those interested in the course, along with a letter of acceptance for those who enrolled. A register was kept during the course.
Whilst more people responded (some saying they were interested and could not attend this module but would be interested in any future courses) eleven individuals enlisted for the course:
Patrick Ambrose, Community Education (7 sessions)
Alan Hodgetts, Dashline, (9 sessions)
Christine Mickleborough, Family Planning (8 sessions)
Peter Stone, West Yorkshire Police (9 sessions)
Julia Hall, Jigsaw (10 sessions)
Colin Walton, North Halifax Mental Health Team (9 sessions)
Elaine Pattinson, North Halifax Mental Health Team (9 sessions)
Pam Rhodes, CYIPS (7 sessions)
Havier Costa-Santana, MSM (7 sessions)
Naomie Sutcliffe, North Halifax Mental Health Team (6 sessions)
Jane Liddell, Leaving Care Team (1 session).
The course ran on Thursday mornings (9.45-12 noon) from 23rd September until 2nd December. Two people left the course, one moved to a new job in the south of England and the other was off work. Nine people completed the course and these came from: North Halifax Mental Health Team (2); Dashline; MSM; Community Education; Family Planning; Jigsaw; West Yorkshire Police; Calderdale Youth in Partnership Scheme.
At the end of the module participants will:
1. be better able to support Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual young people
2. have a better understanding of multi-oppression
3. have a better understanding of the causes and effects of homophobia, especially on LGB young people in relation to sexual health, alcohol/drugs, mental well-being
4. know how to access further information
5. have access to a model to help them develop their own agencies to become more accessible to, and appropriate for, LGB young people.
SESSION 1: SHARING EXPERIENCE/INTRODUCTION TO MODULE/GETTING TO KNOW YOU/GROUND RULES
SESSION 2: OVERVIEW
SESSION 3: RELIGION/MEDICINE
SESSION 4: LAW/EDUCATION
SESSION 5: MEDIA/FAMILY
SESSION 6: EFFECTS ON LGB YOUNG PEOPLE
SESSION 7: IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
SESSION 8: ASSESSING AGENCIES - MODEL FOR CHANGE
SESSION 9: GENERIC PROVISION
SESSION 10: RESOURCES, EVALUATION
The above framework was adhered to for most of the course with slight alterations.
An exercise was included in the first session to ensure the course would cover most of the expectations of the participants, and to acknowledge areas that would not be covered. Utilising this list, participants were asked how they would rate the module with regard to meeting their needs:
Completely: 2; Very Well: 5; Well:2; Fairly Well: 0; Not at All: 0.
In response to the question Do you feel better able to support LGB young people? Seven said yes, one yes and no and one left it blank.
Participants were asked to state three ways in which they felt better able to support LGB young people:
More people to seek advice/support from; more informed; more confident to discuss LGB issues.
Because I have a better understanding of internalised homophobia; I feel I now have more resources available; I have more confidence and a better understanding regarding approaching clients with regard to their sexuality.
More aware of agencies around; increased awareness of needs; more aware of lack of support generally.
Awarenes of issues affecting LGB young people; access to information/support for LGB young people; liaising and networking with other colleagues, agencies - setting up meetings, etc.
Network - refer where appropriate to others who have attended course/more aware of issues facing young LGBs; attending course = opportunity to open up discussion with other members of staff; armed with practical information.
Have better understanding of difficulties LGBs encounter; by being ready and willing to listen to LGBs; refer to appropriate agencies (helplines, support if necessary); supportive of sexual health needs.
I have more insight into the difficulties faced by LGBs; to be empathetic to needs; more able to clarify sexual identity at start of work, assessment stage.
Networks; resources became aware of; understanding - more insight.
I felt able to before the module and feel able to now but I don't think I could state 3 ways in which I have improved my capacity. It's been a question of re-assurance more than anything else.
When asked if they had a better understanding of mult-oppression. eight said yes, one said no but added: "I did have it before hand. Again, re-assured and re-freshed."
Participants were asked to state three ways in which they felt they understood multi-oppression more:
I had not fully appreciated the internalised homphobia issues of LGBs; more confident with the historical aspects of homophobia; plenty of resource material provided.
Having given thought to effects of oppression, I have done some further reading especially around issues of shame and guilt; having been prompted by course material, I have explored my personal sense of being oppressed also I have friends who have suffered oppression (in armed forces) and also because of race, sexuality and addiction; I now have more written material/access to written material.
Increased understanding of effects upon person's self esteem, confidence; increased awareness of importance of internalised self-hate.
Awareness of how people can be and are oppressed; awareness of how to challenge/deal with multi-oppression.
More aware discrimination not a single issue.
There are a number of minority groups who are oppressed e.g. disabled (mentally or physically), unemployed, ethnic minorities; I could be oppressed in that my son is gay, my daughter has mental health problems and is registered severely disabled and my husband has IHD and so not worked for 20 years (I hope I am not oppressed); internal and external oppression.
The impact of the church, education, law.
The way the layers of oppression people are prone to interact - relationship between oppressions; evidence presented on course to backs up theories about multi-oppression well.
In answer to the question: Do you have a better understanding of the causes and effects of homophobia, especially on LGB young people in relation to sexual health, alcohol/drugs, mental well-being? Eight said yes, one yes and no but added: "I've been reassured in what I believed/knew before the module, few new things though."
Participants were asked to state three ways in which they felt they understood the causes and effects of homophobia more:
Because of comprehensive presentation I am much more aware of the way people become homophobic from an early age through school, politics, medicine and religion; through listening, discussing with the group; having given more thought to issues of homophobia.
Effects of media, society, religion.
Fear of homophobia may prevent people accessing services/information they need/require; effects of homophobia may result in young LGBs having mental health problems/difficulties, may use inappropriate coping strategies e.g. drugs and alcohol.
Better understanding of difficulties experienced by young LGBs and long term impact; inability of some agencies to ask the question leaves LGBs only partially accessing provision - importance of question being asked.
Fear; what we were taught as children; lack of knowledge and understanding.
Alcohol masking problem; rate of suicide attempts, etc.
Contributions of members of group helped in this; testimony of young people in booklet used on course i.e. if they say it hurts, then it hurts, plus evidence through videos and course materials; piecing together of things that you already know i.e. putting own experiences within framework/new knowledge.
When asked if they knew how to access further information, all nine said yes.
Participants were asked how to access further information?:
Networking; resources provided by course.
Through course members, LIS, suppliers to our agency, voluntary orgs. specifically for lesbians and gay men.
Links already used by me/my org., new groups met at the module I could network with, I normally access information as part of my job.
Media, agencies, library.
Information helplines, local and national networks and groups, networking and liaising with colleagues, especially people met whilst on course.
Health promotion, national organisations - Stonewall etc., gay press, Shout, Gay Times, etc.
Ring Jan Bridget, Brunswick Centre, Information given on course - telephone numbers of agency members on course.
Contacting colleagues, organisations, literature.
Networks, access to resources.
Eight said they would be accessing further information, the other left it blank.
When asked if they had access to a model to help them develop their own agency to become more accessible to, and appropriate for, LGB young people, eight said yes, one left it blank. Six said they would utilise the model (or parts of it) whilst two left this blank, comments included: "Started to develop awareness, management are starting to listen." "Depends on demand, funds, money, time and resources."
"Developing Agencies." "Have already begun to utilise it."
Participants were asked if they had identified gaps in their organisation's service provision where improvements could be made? Eight said yes, one, yes/no and added: "Again, my organisation covers all of its objectives and aims. Gaps can be identified as there are no special services (appropriate) just for young LGB but these are not in our aims/objectives. It could be (again demand, time, funding, resources)." They were asked to identify the gaps:
Not everyone will have access to/knowledge of this area of work.
Perhaps volunteers could benefit from training, I intend to offer to do this with my manager; perhaps other colleagues would also benefit and intend to suggest a presentation from myself.
Challenging agency generally to be more inclusive and aware.
Initial assessment process/documentation; specialist provision; lack of information and awareness.
Recruitment of LGB providers - target promotion; recruitment of LGB young people - target promotion.
Increase colleagues knowledge on homophobia; difficulties young LGBs encounter, be more accessible and welcoming.
Access to services for LGBs; raise awareness of team; consider sexuality as an integral part of int.appts.
Generic provision - first contact with young people and in attitudes of staff, feel of the buildings.
When asked if the module would help their organisations develop a strategy to become more accessible to LGBs? All said yes. In response to the question how they hoped to achieve this they said:
Team briefings; literature; integrating LGB issues into mainstream work.
Hopefully colleagues will be more proactive after gaining more knowledge from a presentation.
Only if making the organisation more accessible to young LGB was one of the aims/objectives (few things will then be changed/incorporated).
By utilising information within training sessions.
Liaising with colleagues, encouraging others to attend the course, be aware of issues, education, information.
Training volunteers and employed staff; improved access to information/awareness raising; opportunity to open discussions/promote positive ways of working with LGBs.
Presentation to colleagues; change name of Family Planning to a more appropriate name; would be good to work more closely with G.U.
Networking regionally; reminding colleagues; books/articles for our library.
Using models looked at on the course, particularly need to look at training - whilst we have done some we need to do a lot more; also to help people look at their own feelings and attitudes to this work.
All felt better able and more confident to challenge homophobia in themselves, in others and in their work situations.
When asked if there was anything else they wanted to say about the module, several responded:
I feel I am now more aware of lesbian and gay issues and I am now quite motivated to do some more work around making others more aware.
I feel more confident in challenging homophobia not because I wasn't before but because I've been reassured in the module and I have some ideas refreshed.
One or two of the sessions had the feel of 'this is the way it is' with little opportunity afforded for discussion.
Later sessions may have become somewhat repetitive; care needed to avoid bandwagon; maybe too many sessions in total - edit, condense? Usually well presented, very informative, held interest through most of ten weeks, enjoyable.
Made me think! Good mix in the group, not preaching to the converted.
It screams out that it needs repeating; through the course itself and peoples' response to it, and through the multi-agency group (i.e. IAG meeting - screamed out that other agencies need to attend course and that there is a demand for it). It needs to be stressed that by getting people on the course, the effect is completely disproportionate to the numbers on the course i.e. not just affecting one person, affecting the culture of the organisation.
All said they would recommend the module to colleagues; one added: "Absolutely - I think you'll have a queue."
The participants were asked what ways the module could be improved, several responded:
More variety of agencies attending; more participation - at least one group activity per session.
More exercises (warm up) to suit everyone's learning style. Not everyone likes debates/handouts; better venue; better resources if money allows.
Perhaps a little more time for further learning, perhaps a weekend residential?
Tighten up sessions? Rely less on specialisms of group members; maybe less personal tv coverage - we had the real thing.
Perhaps it could be a longer module, with more time given to discussion. Invite outside agencies/groups to speak about their work with LGBs and the success/problems they have encountered.
More support around practical application for individuals within the group.
More exercises along the way to check out learning.
Very relaxed, right sized group, difficult to improve it. Perhaps having a file for handouts.
When asked if they believed that running the module was an effective way of helping agencies in Calderdale to become more accessible to, and provide more appropriate services for, young LGBs? All nine said yes, several adding:
It's effective in providing professionals with up-dated information and real figures/facts. Whether that means making agencies more accessible is a different issue.
I would suggest that people working specifically with young people should perhaps have more in-depth training.
With adaptations, maybe basic groundings in sexuality awareness may be necessary before diving into deep end.
I don't think there is anything else!
Participants were asked if they believed the module would help young LGBs in Calderdale become less vulnerable to some of the effects of homophobia, such as mental health problems, alcohol/drug misuse, poor sexual health, homelessness, isolation, and generally promote better health for this group? All answered yes, some added: "Potentially and theoretically." "Just scratching the surface but better than nothing." "If one person in an organisation has knowledge and understanding of some of the issues that can alter the culture of the agency."
In response to the question Can you think of a better way of doing this? Some said:
"Higher profile, more support." "Not really." "Could presentations be offered in the work place as a rolling programme? Are there any rolling programmes elsewhere in the country that could support this type of course?" "Doing more of it! One course is a start. How to get the volume of people through."
When asked if they could think of any further ways they or their agency could be helped in this matter? Responses included:
Be continually pressed to confirm what we are doing to help support LGBs.
Hopefully that course members will keep in touch/share information and resources.
Continued pressure from any quarter to assist forward movement of juggernaut.
Promote the service as being understanding/accessible, non-judgmental and available to young LGBs in Calderdale.
Short training/awareness raising session for volunteers/employed workers.
Perhaps a presentation by Jan?
Speakers coming to team.
Liaison with training officers in all agencies represented - e.g. health service as with Community Education Service to ensure training is happening and that it includes homophobia.
I am delighted with the module and the way it has encouraged participants to go back to their work places to challenge their agencies to become more accessible; this has actually been happening as the course has progressed.
I am very pleased with the evaluation and feedback from the course participants. I will take on board the comments, in particular to ensure that there is at least one exercise per session, with an emphasis in the latter sessions on providing support around practical applications.
I underestimated the amount of time involved in acquiring funding, preparing for the sessions and the post-module work of writing the Report. I was more interested in getting the course up and running than ensuring that there was enough funding to cover the amount of time it actually took to run the course. Ideally, there would also be time now to work alongside participants to enable them to put into practice what they have learnt on the module. Participants will be invited to attend meetings of the youth group (GALYIC) which will give them the opportunity to give members information about their agencies and the work they do as well as meeting some young lesbian, gay and bisexual people and hearing what their experiences are/have been first hand. Similarly, it is hoped that participants will be able to attend the Inter Agency Group and receive on-going support to encourage their agencies to become more relevant and accessible to young lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Calderdale.
Press Release, information to agencies (48),
booking form, acceptance letter, telephone calls 3
Preparing sessions, delivering sessions,
* Session = 3 hours
23 x 3 = 69 hours @ £10.98 per hour (based on an
annual salary of £20,000) =
ADMINISTRATION COSTS (10%)
Postage (70 x 19p stamps) = £13.30
Photocopying prior to course (276 x 5p) = £13.80
Stationery, printing, telephone,
rent, heating = £48.66
n.b. Participants were charged £5 each to cover photocopying expenses
incurred during course which came to £50 as one person did not pay. Actual expenditure on photocopying came to £46.70.
It is clear that there is a great need for this type of module to be available for workers from both the voluntary and statutory sectors in Calderdale and that it should be a rolling programme, i.e. repeated each term until all of the relevant voluntary and statutory agencies have at least one member of staff who have attended the course. It is also clear that other members of voluntary and statutory agencies will need basic awareness training, plus funding (fairly minimal) to develop resources.
This module - alongside the Inter Agency Group, GALYIC, and hopefully some of the other recommendations from the ACTION Report, e.g. producing a booklet aimed at all workers in Calderdale who work with young people - is an excellent method of encouraging agencies in Calderdale to work together to provide appropriate and accessible services for LGB young people and thereby reducing the effects of homophobia on these vulnerable young people (i.e. reducing mental health problems including attempted - and completed - suicides, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias; alcohol and drug misuse; homelessness; poor sexual health, etc.) The problem remains, however, where will the funding come from to support this work? The most obvious response is joint funding - Calderdale MBC and Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority.