Support for LGBT+ communities in LEEDS

Leeds is aiming to be an LGBT+ Friendly City. The Council, other public, private and third sector partners and the LGBT+ communities are collaborating to deliver on this ambition.

Background

Leeds has a large and diverse LGBT+ population and it is also a regional hub for LGBT+ people who visit Leeds to work, socialise or to access support and services. In recognition of this, Leeds is aiming to be an LGBT+ Friendly City. The Council, other public, private and third sector partners and the LGBT+ communities are collaborating to deliver on this ambition. However, the reality is that many LGBT+ people and their families face barriers to accessing services and leading their lives free of discrimination. 

Whilst Leeds has a developed commercial bar and club culture, it does not have a developed community infrastructure. There are few LGBT+ community groups and organisations. A limited number of activities are being developed by non LGBT+ organisations and services, for example around mental health, homelessness and sexual health; whilst this is welcome and appropriate, there is a need for more of this and it is not a substitute for  LGBT+ led community activity and organisations. 

Leeds Community Foundation – an organisation that funds community groups in Leeds, recently undertook a review of their investment and noted a lack of bids for and from LGBT+ community organisations and the LGBT+ community. The lack of LGBT+ groups and organisations was noted as a barrier to investment in the community.

Leeds LGBT* Hub is now a thriving forum which brings together individual members of the community. They have identified a range of ambitions in response to needs in Leeds and they have agreed an action plan, but the lack of an LGBT+ infrastructure is a barrier to progress.  

An emerging understanding of the infrastructure support needs of the LGBT+ communities in Leeds

Two meetings have been held recently, jointly hosted by Leeds City Council, the LGBT* Hub and Leeds Community Foundation. Representatives from a number of third sector organisations, as well as individuals, attended.  

The meetings discussed what networks, infrastructure and resources are available to support the LGBT+ community in Leeds. It was noted that MESMAC, whose primary focus is promoting positive sexual health, is frequently used as a vehicle for engaging with the community and delivering projects. The meeting focused on the difficulty individuals face in finding out about LGBT+ support and activities and the lack of LGBT+ voluntary and community groups. It was noted that no dedicated investment has been made in community development in the LGBT+ community and there is a lack of capacity to develop LGBT+ community infrastructure and activities. It is also noted that the lack of any significant LGBT+ voluntary organisations is a barrier to securing investment to support the shared ambitions around infrastructure development and meeting community needs and ambitions.

The broad conclusions were that:
  • Other cities have specific infrastructure resources and/or a physical hub, such as Bradford (Equity Partnership), Sheffield (Gay Sheffield), and Manchester (LGBT Foundation) and we need to understand what the need is in Leeds.           
  • There have been discussions about the desirability and viability of an LGBT+ Centre in Leeds for many years. The meeting noted this, but recognised that a physical centre may not be the appropriate vehicle to meet the needs of the wide range of members of the LGBT+ communities and may not be financially viable at this time. However colleagues agreed that it would be useful in the first instance, to: 
    • invest in the development of a ‘virtual’ community resource, with online access to information about LGBT+ groups, activities etc.
    • invest in community development support to facilitate LGBT+ community activity and establishment of LGBT+ groups.  
    • establish a funding pot to support LGBT+ community development and activity. 
  • There were lots of pockets of activity across the City, but information was not held in any single location, so some initial mapping was required. 
  • There was a desire to explore innovative ways of delivering support e.g. through thematic/geographic areas, as well as looking at the options for a physical hub.  

Stage One

We are pleased to confirm that Leeds City Council has made £10,000 available through the Innovation Fund to enable this initial work to start.  The key tasks involved in this next stage are: -         
  • Undertake activity mapping of: 
    • support provided by established organisations 
    • informal support through community-based, self-help and interest groups
    • social activities and options 
  • Review support provided for LGBT+ communities in at least 3 other cities 
  • Use the information gained to: 
    • create the framework for what will be some form of online presence/signposting (you are not expected to actually deliver the website with the initial funding) 
    • identify gaps in provision of support/services/activities 
    • create an action plan for future work, including identifying partners for delivery 
  • Work with LCF to identify potential investment partners and begin outline discussions with the aim of securing funding to take on a full-time co-ordinator and/or fund some gaps in provision of support.

Host Organisation

We are now looking for applications from organisations that could undertake the short-term piece of work identified above. The guidelines are given below:  
  • Applicants need to be constituted third sector organisations with the capacity to undertake the initial work between August and December 2016.   
  • You can use the funding to extend the hours of a current worker or take on a new member of staff.
  • Some preference was expressed to have this function provided by a neutral infrastructure organisation, as opposed to any group already directly involved in service delivery perhaps to a specific part of the wider LGBT+ community.  In any instance, consideration would need to be given as to how this project/role could have a separate identity from that of the host that could potentially be used longer-term. 
  • It is likely that an advisory/steering group would be set up to help guide the work plan, made up of representatives from organisations/individuals with relevant experience.

Bidding to deliver this work

 

If you wish to be considered for the role of host organisation, please send an initial Expression of Interest of no more than three sides of A4 (in minimum 11 point font) with the following information:
  • Contact Details: name of person to speak to, address, phone number, email address, website. 
  • Brief description of your experience in supporting or working with the LGBT+ community. 
  • Your proposals for providing staff resource to undertake the project. 
  • An outline work plan of how you would propose to deliver the stage one work and what reporting mechanisms you would propose. 
  • An outline budget of how you would allocate the £10,000. 
  • Any other information you think might be relevant.   
Please send this information by email to simone@leedscf.org.uk no later than 5pm on Friday 19 August.