LGBTQ+ health and social care: moving from inclusion to equity

LGBTQ+ health and social care: moving from inclusion to equity

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex people have always known that sometimes it isn’t safe to be ‘out of the closet’ - but did you know that they may also feel this when using health services, social care or services from charitable organisations? Research by Stonewall has identified that, for 1 in 7 LGBTQ+ people, fear of discrimination is one of the main reasons why they avoid treatment and services to which they are entitled.

"The issues facing LGBTQ+ people are still there and need to be addressed if we want to live in an equitable society." - Jacqui Jobson, Fellow

We know that the Covid-19 pandemic disproportionately affected some of the most vulnerable in our society. LGBTQ+ people were affected in terms of their mental health, access to treatment and the impact of isolation. This was particularly the case for young people, trans or gender diverse people and older people. Now that we seem to have (hopefully) come out of the pandemic, the issues facing LGBTQ+ people are still there and need to be addressed if we want to live in an equitable society.

As a Churchill Fellow, I applied for a grant from the Covid-19 Action Fund, as I wanted to raise awareness of the needs of LGBTQ+ communities during and after the pandemic. I was worried that, as it became necessary to strip back to basics as part of our emergency response, some of the small gains we have made in terms of inclusion and visibility would be eroded. This is particularly concerning at the moment, not just because of the pandemic, but also because of cuts to services in the current economic environment.

With Churchill Fellowship funding, I was able to build an awareness campaign called Equal Not The Same, towards the beginning of the pandemic. I produced guidance around supporting LGBTQ+ people through the pandemic and provided several webinars and a short film. I talked about the particular needs of LGBTQ+ people during the pandemic. I also talked about the need for workers to be LGBTQ+ culturally competent and to understand the traumatic impact that discrimination can have on people’s lives. Over 100 people attended the webinars across the country and the guidance had over 500 hits on my website.

Later on in the pandemic, I focused on charities, as I wanted to give targeted support which would bring about meaningful change. I offered bespoke training to 12 charities, including an opportunity to develop an LGBTQ+ action plan tailored to their organisation. These charities told me that they had improved their practice with simple but effective changes, such as more imagery on their website, changing policies to be more inclusive and monitoring how many LGBTQ+ people accessed their service. One charity said: “This work has given us the chance to really up our game and make sure that we are providing services to everyone in a way that meets their needs. It’s no longer good enough to stick a Rainbow Flag on our website in Pride Month. We are now listening to our LGBTQ+ staff and services users about what would make a difference for them.”

The work has been inspiring for me and, with further Churchill Fellowship funding, I am now building on this work to design and carry out a feasibility study for an LGBTQ+ Equity Award. This would support charities to improve equity for LGBTQ+ people. Charities would be assessed against LGBTQ+ Equity Standards and supported to develop a plan that ensures LGBTQ+ people are receiving the services they deserve.

If anyone is interested in this work, Jacqui welcomes contact at jacquijobsonconsultancy@gmail.com. The Equal Not The Same guidance and film can be viewed on her website at https://www.jacquijobsonconsultancy.co.uk/featured-project.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.

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