How we ensure our services are accessible and responsive
We want to make sure that all our services are accessible and responsive to people from LQBTQ+ communities. We do this by providing all our staff and volunteers with frequent mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion training, making our publicity and resources inclusive and ensuring that we monitor and report (anonymously) on the sexuality and gender identities of our service-users. We encourage service-users to self-identify as well as respecting their right to privacy if they prefer not to share this information with us. We provide advocacy support to ensure our service-users’ rights are upheld and discrimination and hate crime on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity are challenged.
Advocacy services for people from LGBT+ communities
We support people from LGBTQ+ communities across all of our Advocacy services. Our Health and Care Advocacy service is specifically aimed at groups that we identified may benefit from additional support with health and social care needs and includes people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Trans. Our Hate Crime Advocacy service specifically supports people who experience hate crime due to their sexuality and or gender identity.
In Pride Month we’d like to give you a flavour of the advocacy support we provide. Read about Chris who referred themselves to our Health and Care Advocacy service for support to resolve issues arising from their experiences of discrimination and hate crime as a result of their intersectional identities of gender and disability (their name has been changed). This is Chris's story as told to their Advocate Heather Goodhand.
Chris defines themselves as gender fluid, has a congenital physical disability and lives with mental health issues including anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chris has experienced verbal and physical abuse and assaults and believes their home was targeted for repeated burglaries because of their intersectionality. Because of burglaries and hate crime Chris was rehoused in a new area of the North East.
Although they like the area where they now live, Chris continues to experience hate crime. They feel they have done everything they can to let services know how this is impacting on their wellbeing but feel ignored, that services are not taking their concerns seriously and communication with their housing/care providers has broken down. Unfortunately the remit of the workers provided by their landlord changed and they no longer provide mental health support. Chris feels very isolated and would like to explore other sources of mental health support. This winter Chris had a 3-month period of feeling actively suicidal, resulting in weekly welfare checks from their GP. Chris was made aware of Connected Voice Advocacy by their counsellor. They find it difficult to trust professionals and wants advocacy support to help get their point of view across.
How Chris' Advocate supported them
The advocate built rapport with Chris by communicating with them regularly and openly and allowing them to tell their story until they felt able to relate to her. She made clear that information discussed would not be disclosed without Chris’s consent and that they were independent from other services. The advocate explained she would do all she could to let Chris’s views be known but was also honest that what may be achieved might not be exactly what Chris was hoping for. The advocate:
- included and was led by Chris in planning the actions they would like to take
- supported Chris in making phone calls to service providers
- included Chris in emails written to professionals so Chris could have a record to refer to. The emails also reinforced that the advocate was directly expressing Chris’s concerns and wishes and aided the transparency of the advocacy relationship.
- talked to professionals on Chris’s behalf, making her role as an advocate clear and stressing that she would always be led by the client and take their side.
The advocacy relationship is relatively young so the advocacy issues are in the process of being addressed. However, importantly, after building up trust Chris felt able to engage with their advocate. Chris said:
“I feel without my advocate I’d be on my own and continue to feel rejected. I have felt past the point of being able to cope by myself. In December I felt the persecution, psychological torment and torture, combined with Covid, felt like hell. I felt suicidal. I felt my service providers were ignoring me and not taking me seriously enough. I felt like I’d got stuck fighting on my own and I’d done everything I could and got nowhere. I feel I can relate to my advocate and I’m hopeful that having an advocate will be beneficial to my situation and wellbeing.”
If you would like to make a referral to our services for yourself or someone else go to Refer to Connected Voice Advocacy
To see more about what Connected Voice is doing over Pride Month and to find out about the Pride progress Flag go to Our Pride Logo: The meaning behind the brand