Lesbians and Housing
Whilst supporting lesbians in Leicester, housing came up regularly as a problem experienced by those who attended the support groups. As a result, a small piece of research was conducted and the results published in Lesbians and Housing in Leicester.
After LIS had moved to Todmorden at the end of 1989, Lancashire County Council were approached to fund a research project into the needs of young lesbians in East Lancashire. The complete results of this research - in-depth interviews with thirteen lesbians alongside a survey of services - were never published because of attacks from the local media and withdrawal of support from the County Council. Some of the findings are included in the Annual Report 1990-91. The project was extended to include interviews with 20 lesbians in total and some of the results are included in LYSIS Report 1995 Lesbian Youth Support Information Service (LYSIS): Developing a Distance Support Agency for Young Lesbians. Comments by the participants are included in the Lesbians and Alcohol Misuse: A Guide for Alcohol Workers.
As a result of the research with young lesbians, alcohol misuse was identified as a problem and funding was acquired from the Alcohol Education Research Council to conduct further work on this issue. A survey of 38 alcohol treatment agencies in north west England was conducted utilising a previous study from New York (Alcohol Questionnaire); the findings are published in: Treatment of Lesbians with Alcohol Problems in Alcohol Treatment Services in North West England Report.. See also HISTORY. (Lesbians and Alcohol Project (LAP)). With funding from Comic Relief the Lesbians and Alcohol Misuse: A Guide for Alcohol Workers was produced.
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale
In response to an approach by the local Health Promotion Centre, LIS became involved in an inter-agency project examining the needs of young lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Calderdale. The questionnaire (ACTION Questionnaire) used to conduct research with young lesbians was adapted and in-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen young people (eight male, seven female) and 43 agencies were surveyed (Agency Questionnaire) regarding provision of services for this group. The process is reported in the ACTION Situation Report 1998, LIS End of Year Report 1999; the results are published in theACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People in Calderdale Research Report. The research is on-going; up-dated statistics are published in the ACTION for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Calderdale Annual Report, 2000.
Homophobic Hate Crime in Calderdale
GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale) acquired funding from Calderdale Community Safety Partnership (£2,500); set up a Homophobic Hate Crime Task Group made up of individual lesbians and gays and appropriate agencies; and employed a researcher to conduct a literature review and a survey of homophobic hate crime in Calderdale. The results can be found in Homophobic Hate Crime in Calderdale. These were disseminated via the local media and a half-day seminar with relevant agencies.
Lesbian and Gay Health in Calderdale
GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale) acquired funding from Calderdale & Kirklees Health Authority (Health Improvement Plan) to set up a Lesbian and Gay Health Task Group; the group have conducted appropriate literature reviews; organised an event to consult the lesbian and gay communities (Pride Report) and are putting together a Lesbian and Gay Health Action Plan; this will be submitted to the Primary Care Group.
Current members of the GALYIC youth group, and most of the participants of the original ACTION research in Calderdale, had experienced homophobic bullying whilst at school. Yet experience showed that few of the schools seemed to be doing much about it and only a handful would display the GALYIC poster, thereby providing any LGB pupil access to support. Schools are notoriously difficult to access. After holding a meeting with the police, Victim Support and the Racial Harassment Officer for Calderdale MBC, it was agreed GALYIC would write a report and the Racial Harassment Officer would ensure it was distributed to the appropriate people within Calderdale MBC. Preventing Homophobic Bullying in Calderdale Schools was produced and published with funding from Connexions West Yorkshire. It gives a comprehensive look at national (and international) homophobic bullying research; isolation and invisibility; effects of homophobic abuse, isolation and invisibility; projects tackling homophobic abuse; social policies; legal action; police; Crown Prosecution Service; and what is happening in Calderdale. It also includes adapted resources from the USA and a list of recommendations.
The Report was distributed to all of the schools and other relevant departments in Calderdale, for example, the Schools Improvement Service and was launched at Halifax Town Hall. Speakers included the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Schools Improvement Service, a member of GALYIC youth group and the mother of a young man who was being bullied. Copies of the report were also sent to leaders of the national political parties and national organisations such as the National Youth Agency. As a result of this, GALYIC was invited to present a workshop at an NUT conference in London in November 2003; copies of the executive summary and resources were distributed to participants as well as the speakers, one of whom was the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Charles Hendry, MP, who commended the report. GALYIC were invited to write an article for the Winter, 2003-2004 edition of UKYouth which is distributed to hundreds of youth groups throughout the United Kingdom.
The report has also been successful on a local level. For example, the Schools Improvement Service have agreed to give a higher profile to homophobic bullying in their anti-bullying policy as well as in their healthy schools policy. Publication coincided with a local school inviting GALYIC to give a presentation at their Board of Governors meeting because of homophobic bullying within their school. As a result of this, GALYIC have liaised with the school and set up a working party including teachers, pupils, parents, governors and other relevant agencies such as the Schools Improvement Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, etc., to develop a programme to tackle homophobic bullying in the school. If successful it is hoped to roll the programme out to other schools in Calderdale.
This has been one of the most successful action research projects to date for two main reasons: Firstly, because of the time in history: i.e. repeal of section 28 of the local authority act and other homophobic legislation; introduction of anti-discrimination in employment legislation; more visibility of LGB issues within the media; a higher profile being given to tackling homophobic hate incidents; a higher profile of homophobic bullying in schools by government, trades unions and other relevant agencies. Secondly, because of support from other agencies in Calderdale, i.e. the Racial Harassment Officer, the Police, Victim Support, and Schools Improvement Service.
As part of a training programme to develop appropriate services a questionnaire has been developed utilising an original one used to assess alcohol treatment agencies in New York. This questionnaire was first used by LIS as the Alcohol Questionnaire to survey alcohol treatment agencies in north west England (see Alcohol Services) but has now been adapted for use in training youth and community workers, mental health workers, social workers, etc. It is a useful tool to ascertain what training (basic and in-service) workers have had, what sort of issues the training covered, the quality of training, supervision, information, percentage of LGB clients, whether workers ask clients about sexual orientation, how workers would support LGB clients, whether LGB clients have specific needs, what they think the best way is of supporting LGB clients, whether their management are aware of LGB issues, etc. It can be used as the first stage in the Model for Change developed by LIS (see Training) or as an introduction to homophobia awareness training. It is currently being used in Calderdale and elsewhere to assess the training needs of different agencies. The following are examples of completed assessments:
Calderdale School Nurses;
Mental Health Day Services
Calderdale & Kirklees Careers Ltd
Victim Support, Calderdale
Social Services Outreach
Wigan Social Services