Breaking the Cycle
At the beginning of 2007, the Lesbian & Gay Foundation set up the Rainbow Partnership with the intent of increasing our community’s influence through developing a cohesive voice. I am pleased to report that over the last two years we have been joined by more than 270 charities, voluntary groups, public sector bodies, social enterprises and individuals, who share our vision of developing and supporting a sustainable LGB&T sector.
The production of this strategy follows a wide-ranging and comprehensive consultation process. For the first time, we have been able to begin to collectively define the needs of our communities, highlight the barriers to growth, and propose pragmatic and practical actions that we can each undertake to improve the lives of the LGB&T people within the North West region.
‘Breaking the Cycle’ is split into five main sections, including an executive summary which collates the recommendations that can be found throughout the report, and which is also available separately. The intended outcomes of these recommendations include:
- Improving organisations in terms of their service delivery to LGB&T people.
- Including LGB&T issues within planning cycles and policy development.
- Increasing the involvement of the workforce and service users.
As with any strategy, its success will need to be measured in how people use it. We believe ‘Breaking the Cycle’ provides a roadmap to create an inclusive environment where all LGB&T people can reach their full potential. We very much hope we have produced an accessible and usable document, which will enable and empower both individuals and groups to lobby for better access to support, inclusion and resources (including funding).
Already, a lot of interest has been shown in the draft format of the strategy. Whilst based on the views of people in the North West,the report has the potential for local, regional and indeed national significance. We now look forward to the messages of support this strategy has already generated translating into action across all sectors.
Whilst implementing the strategy has both moral and economic grounding, the introduction of the Single Equality Act and the Duty to Involve will also significantly add to the legal imperative. Doing nothing is no longer an option. The public sector will have a responsibility to gather further knowledge and intelligence about their residents who are LGB&T. Additionally, LGB&T people will have a responsibility to stand up and be counted when monitoring of public service delivery extends equally across the equality strands. We can no longer afford to remain invisible.
Currently there is very little information available on LGB&T communities in this country. One of the main purposes of this strategy is to provide strategic direction to the LGB&T sector in the North West region and promote the support that is required to sustain this.
The consultation process identified a cycle that restricts the establishment, growth and sustainability of LGB&T specific organisations, services and support. Proactive action is needed in all of the following three areas – no one part is seen as a stand-alone item that could break the cycle in isolation. Rather each should be tackled simultaneously:
- Develop an evidence base
- Increase knowledge and engagement of public sector partners
- Increase capacity of LGB&T VCS
Most of the people interviewed and included in the development of this strategy stated that they found this cycle impossible to break out of. The issues are overwhelming for any oneorganisation or individual, and there is a clear need for a combined partnership approach to be adopted. Change in all communities only comes about through concerted and continuous collective action, on commonly shared goals.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the people involved in this project so far, without whom this strategy would not have been possible. Jacqui Cross, the LGF’s former Deputy Chief Executive began working on this project with me back in 2004 when we sketched out what a regional, strategic, LGB&T capacity building project in the North West might look like; Christina Marriot, our independent consultant who undertook all of the fieldwork and analysed the findings from the consultations; Darren Knight and Siân Payne, who have steered the report to publication and who will be immediately responsible for its implementation across the region; the LGF Design Team, who have worked hard on making the strategy not only look good but have made it more accessible to many more audiences; Matt Harby and Rob Cookson, who have strategically managed this project and secured investment for the next 2 ½ years; and of course many thanks to Capacitybuilders for agreeing to fund this groundbreaking initiative; and last but certainly not least, thank you to the members of our Rainbow Partnership, who willingly and freely gave of their time and talent in making this strategy what it is, and who quietly but very deliberately act as LGB&T champions each and every day.
Now it’s over to you. By reading this strategy, you are already showing an interest in the needs of LGB&T people within your communities. However ultimately, the difference we can individually and collectively make relies on the commitment we now make to implement the strategy’s recommendations. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, require any advice, would like to explore some ideas, or if you have any further suggestions. Our door is always open!
Paul Martin OBE
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation