Important update on Network organisation evolution:

The Network is very pleased to announce that the Charity Commission has approved important adjustments to our organisation’s constitutional Objects and the charity’s working/public name. We shall as a result in the next few weeks be adjusting our organisation logo, website address, Twitter handle, and finally with effect by the end of November, our email address.

These changes have been made to reflect our pan-UK (and in some areas, international) activity and effectiveness on challenging and informing policy change at government and public service organisations and agencies level.  We however shall continue to have within our work (and this reflected in the new constitutional Objects) a pan-Dorset & BCP conurbation dimension.

Education, mental health, and the purpose of achieving a new phase of the crucial LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ ‘Allies’ development, will remain at the centre of the Network’s activity, with enhanced emphasis.

In the next two weeks/by mid-November we will update this news article to provide the new public/official working name of our organisation with accompanying details of logo change, website address, Twitter handle, and email address.

Network LGBTQ+ homeless initiative UPDATE

Update (September 11th 2921). The Network is delighted to update that it’s LGBTQ+ homeless support multi agency initiative has now completed it’s first phase of implementation. This week we completed work with Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to provide dedicated LGBTQ+ homeless community training & awareness support resources to the Trust’s Steps 2 Wellbeing healthcare professionals and admin (a first component for video training support has been completed and is about to be added too).

In addition after many months of campaigning and representation, including support by a prominent Councillor and Out member of our LGBT+ community in the Bournemouth Poole Christchurch area, the conurbation’s council, homeless forum cane to back our request for developing with us the first ever LGBTQ+ homeless support platform. In addition we have engaged the Dorset PCC to strongly support the Network initiative developing guidance and involvement to the Dorset Police force on the numerous aspects particular to LGBTQ+ homelessness and hidden homeless ‘sofa surfing’ safeguarding and predatory/exploitative very real, well-documented, dangers.

The anchor to this major breakthrough remains of course the mental healthcare support from the NHS in conjunction with the community (as a progression from Network, NHS awareness resources and training that have led to a marked jump in community confidence using Dorset Healthcare’s Steps 2 Wellbeing services).

Having reached this stage, and having completed detailed thematic support resources, mental healthcare & NHS support orientated BUT of value to all who care about making a meaningful change in supporting our LGBTQ+ homeless community, we have a sufficient project first phase experience and implementation base to take to other parts of the UK.

Network Census 2021 Report provided to the National Statistician — appreciation for report and for working with the ONS on Census data utilisation

The Network — which has developed it’s new ‘working’ name ‘LGBT+ Network for Change’ (unanimously supported by a recent Trustees Board meeting) reflecting our ethos and national level work — has received a very positive response from the Office of National Statistics, National Statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond regarding our important report (Census Analysis and Feedback Report), the first of it’s kind nationally, and much needed.

Below we include excerpts from the National Statistician’s letter confirming appreciation for our Report (in which are provided a set of Census questions of major to minor LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ community importance, analysis: these for reference as Census data starts to emerge at the end of this year) and of welcome for collaboration going forward.

We are very pleased about this as it is clear that on a number of points much work still needs to be undertaken where such important data gathering exercises are concerned for more excluded or vulnerable sections of our community: our report has identified these and provided through the report details, awareness to the ONS at National Statistician level.

Letter from the National Statistician

Dear Alan and the LGBT+ Network for Change,

Census analysis and feedback report from the LGBT+ Network for Change

Thank you for your letter and feedback report of 16th August 2021.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and the LGBT+ Network for Change for the support you gave to the Census collection operation that took place earlier this year. …

… I am keen we maintain and build upon the working relationship developed between ONS and the LGBT+ Network for Change. I want to ensure that LGBT+ communities are engaged in plans for the future of the census as well as wider statistical developments.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

We will be utilising the report where needed in feed-in to national government departments, agencies, local authorities and public service organisations, going forward and to Parliamentary Select Committees work.

Network support to Uganda LGBT / Lesbian community — request to British High Commission (Kampala) regarding ravaging of Covid 19 in Lesbian safe house:

The Network is taking action in regard to a deadly Covid 19 outbreak in a Lesbian safe house in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We were contacted via Twitter late last week y the lead of the safe house who was calling out for help internationally to our LGBT+ community, as the Coronavirus had broken out in the safe house, with one person dead so far and others very ill.

As many readers of this news announcement will be aware Uganda is one of the most brutally homophobic countries in the world with an infamous record on torture murders and public humiliations of LGBT people and those suspected of not being heterosexual or cisgender: the source of the problem being religious / Christian fundamentalist views of virulently anti-LGBT kinds. The country has anti-LGBT laws that have ultimately been derived from the influence of the latter, meaning there are no legal protections for community members; in fact the reverse.

For more on the terrible realities of what it is like to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans or non-binary in Uganda, please visit this searing article by Pink News that the safe house lead provided to us at the Network:

Consequently those at the safe house face a double peril: from the virus, and from the fear of the authorities and vigilante Christian extremist gangs that seek out LGBT and suspected LGBT people to persecute, torment, and often murder. For this reason help has not been able to be sought from the authorities regarding the Covid 19 outbreak. Only instead by a desperate and very courageous outreach to the international LGBT community to make us aware of the plight of those at the safe house.

The Network has therefore advised the basic, protection action and safety measure of the safe house lead contacting the British High Commissioner (BHC) of Uganda, Ms Kate Airey. We are following up directly on this with Ms Airey, and are asking for the BHC to provide all possible assistance to those at the safe house (the request made by it’s lead being for Covid 19 related PPE, testing, etc.).

The Network follow up to the British High Commissioner involves Stonewall having direct awareness of the situation and the Network request. We believe that in this way a from the UK LGBT+ community (and community support organisations such as the Network and Stonewall), much more deepened relationship with the BHC in Uganda can assist our community members there, and of course the BHC itself. We are aware of some infamous anti-LGBT ‘Hostile Environment’ cases by Home Office, UK Immigration (UKVI) in regard to Ugandan LGBT community members, so it is important that the relationship mentioned be developed, to assist both community and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In our email to the British High Commissioner, Uganda we also request information on exactly what the BHC (FCDO) has been achieving and involved in regard to direct LGBT+ community engagement and support: this information once provided will assist us and every party concerned.

Census 2021: the Network provides analysis & feedback Report to the National Statistician and the Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The Network was at grassroots and strategic engagement level from the start of 2021 actively engaged in preparation to support maximum outreach and participation of our LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ communities in the South of England and beyond. Our particular interest being to engage more marginalised, disempowered, overlooked sections of our communities.

Because of this priority we undertook major evaluation at detailed question by question level of the Census 2021 — delivered by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) — online and hard-copy versions so we could better advise community members about the community-relevant questions (and there were a number of these, Not only the two new sexual orientation and gender identity ground-breaking questions the ONS introduced to our and all LGBT+ rights & equality supporting organisations) in the Census.

This work led to creation of a valuable resource that the Network has provided (16th August) formally to the National Statistician (Sir Ian Diamond) and ONS, as the priority of the Network is to see maximum use of Census data to inform much better quality and extensive LGBT+ & LGBTQ community supportive services at national UK Government departments policy and public services delivery level.

We are delighted to share that we have received confirmation of receipt of the Report from the Office of the National Statistician, who will be studying the findings and recommendations.

This will enable us to be able to follow up with those government departments, public services providers and local authorities where relevant on their use of the Census data used to inform LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ communities members engagement and support where policies and services planning and delivery are concerned, and strengthening too work in this area by organisations such as Stonewall.

The Network has also been invited by the ONS to join their Census 2021 Engagement Group, which we are now a part of.

Network LGBT & LGBTQ+ homeless community, NHS engagement & multi-agency initiative:

With the initiative having from the outset national level use, and relevance to any given city, town, county, district, the Network, that originated in the BCP area has been able to over the past six months (from February to August 2021) run a very valuable key relevant stakeholders outreach & engagement exercise, which is now [mid-August 2021] complete.  The intension was to gain experience that would be valuable in multiple different locations across the UK.

Bournemouth in particular has a for its population size, major homeless community, and is recognised to have the fifth or sixth largest LGBT+ population in England.  As such, in principle, the BCP conurbation offers the best possible national replication test conditions factors for a concerted multi-agency coordinated linked-up approach to LGBT homeless & hidden homeless support.  Equally it presents nationally relevant factors that to date have prevented such a joined up approach. 

The conurbation also has a dedicated Council led Homeless Partnership, which has the potential to be the ideal mechanism for the multi-agency coordination.  We first approached the Partnership over a year ago in regard to establishing within it a dedicated group or section that would include committed homeless support organisations and the local authority’s housing department. 

There was from the Partnership lead instant enthusiasm concerning this, yet with it being very well-known that a) LGBT homelessness is a distinct phenomenon (24% of the total younger homeless population are from our LGBT & LGBTQ community) separate to that of the broader homeless community, and b) that as a distinct phenomenon clear dedicated solutions were and are required, a year on – A YEAR ON — no action on setting up a dedicated LGBT homeless support sub-group in the Partnership has been taken despite polite but clear reminders on this provided to the Partnership lead by the Network. 

This indicates either unstated opposition within established elements of the Partnership, or that the needs of the LGBT homeless and at risk of homelessness are Not a priority for the Partnership.

The Network became a member of the Partnership over a year ago, and found after the initial enthusiasm and promise for action, the promise was progressively diluted (we must and are intending to set up a minority communities sub-group and an LGBT dimension within this will be provided, etc. etc.) to an aspirational, inactive level, and eventually no contact. 

This is a valuable experience for it will have parallels across the country. The Network concern is that embedded in such traditional, conventional homeless support partnerships there are many religious-based/associated organisations, that de-facto have dynamic active association with religions OR forms of religions that have major, historic associations with persecution of LGBT people, and ‘conversion therapy’ approaches to LGBTQ youth in particular. 

Homeless support organisations and charities that have such associations would be looked to have minimal interest in effective support to the LGBT homeless community as such support clashes with core more non-inclusive traditional religious values and perspectives where same-sex love is concerned. 

As such, this experience indicates valuable learning relevant to any part of the UK where going to such established traditional homeless support collaboratives are concerned.  The main lesson is that such traditional multi-group homeless support partnerships cannot be the main focus for effective support to our LGBT homeless community. In contrast the three component model below negates such factors, and meets all of the key support needs for our community members who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to family rejection/anti-LGBT oppression, conversion ‘therapy’ type abuse, etc.

It is our hope that the Partnership can reassess its communication and support record in regard to the necessary actions. It must be stressed that the Partnership is a BCP Council based/strategically linked one.

Council Housing Department record dimension:

The Network has found a comparable record of inaction and ‘pass the parcel’ (one official passing to another, to another, etc. from the same Council’s Housing Department). This record of many months standing has been very disappointing given the size of the conurbation’s LGBT community. The Network had asked in early 2021, to the Council’s Housing Department: a) what dedicated LGBT community safehouse emergency accommodation does the Council have and if none or minimal what signposting to demonstrated LGBT dedicated or LGBT safe & proven to be competent in LGBT support third parties do you signpost. After an enormous amount of time spent by the Network seeking answers to these basic questions, a meeting was arranged with the relevant Council housing department officer, by the Partnership admin/office lead (who attended the meeting). The outcome was still that no clear answers could be given to the two

Conclusions: at best we have to-date (and e absolutely wish to see a real change now from both take place with Action not evasiveness and timewasting) found that where the Partnership (and in this we are speaking about leadership/admin only not the concept of the Partnership itself or it’s membership per se) is concerned there is still an inability to answer those basic questions beyond a non-timelined aspiration that Diverse Communities particular needs, including LGBT are going to be looked into and in a year or so potentially clearer support may be possible. For those in crisis from our LGBT community this de-facto indolent approach is not credible or acceptable. The Network has received cases from LGBT homeless community members on the frontline of this failure. In states of major crisis they too found their hopes crushed and precious time wasted. In one case we learned from a client that they had to leave the area, and eventually found a local authority that was supportive, but some 200+ miles away.

Other: national dimensions

Parallel to the above, the initiative covered national level agencies and supportive organisations from within the LGBT+ community and broader homeless community support sectors.  This dimension to the initiative is continuing and we will be providing more information on this in October.


About the Network initiative:

The initiative in support to our LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ homeless and hidden homeless communities has been developed to provide:

  1. ‘Need to know’ knowledge on the origins, characteristics/dimension, and solutions information resources for all those with interest in or obligations & commitments to support the communities from both preventative as well as assistance to move into positions of safety and progression to being free to lead full and fulfilling lives for those community members who have been homeless. 
  2. The core primary support need being mental healthcare services orientated one, our initiative has developed information resources for NHS mental healthcare service providing organisations, with focus on mental healthcare professionals foremost, and admin staff that take the initial often life-breaking or life-making calls from LGBT+ and especially LGBTQ+ community members who have been driven to become homeless for their safety or mental health preservation reasons.
  3. Beyond NHS healthcare provision support, the preventative and alert to potential vulnerable individuals (commonly in the 14 – 16 years of age group, dimension of needed awareness our initiative identifies is in the college / Further Education age range. Information on the LGBT homeless phenomenon causes and mental health dimensions provided to these education service providers constitutes the next core level of approach and support the Network initiative provides. 

These education providers to have the information resource referred to for relevant staff awareness & dedicated training and/or intranet use derived from the latter, and with annual LGBT community celebration and awareness calendar fixtures (LGBT History Month, Pride Month, IDAHOBIT, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Mental Health Awareness Day, etc.) always featuring the LGBT homeless phenomenon to staff and students.

  • For given local area LGBT organisations, such as especially Prides, and also LGBT businesses (especially clubs, bars, cafes) to be involved to promote ‘go to’ signposting and direct support organisations, particularly NHS, LGBT homeless support services, and connection to the education sector (2.). 

The Network initiative involves emphasis on the above, with NHS services provision as the anchor.

  • A model for broader homeless support sector multi-agency working across stakeholders involved in the homeless support sector based on the three fundamentals above

The Network LGBT homeless initiative information resources have been created and disseminated broadly, and as our first priority for implementation these resources concentrate on mental health care support services in partnership with the NHS. 

Regarding this work on deployment of the resources is currently taking place for healthcare professionals and admin staff assistance and related training with the pan-Dorset Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. 

This of course is the core, anchor work of the Network’s initiative, as mental healthcare credible LGBT appropriate and LGBT competent delivered NHS mental healthcare for our LGBT homeless and at risk of homelessness is the primary level of support needed to make a real difference to members of the latter. Without it the secondary and tertiary levels of support cannot be effectively engaged.

From October 2021, this LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ communities supportive Network – NHS (DHC) work will be complete and formally launched for the benefit of all LGBT homeless community and at risk of homelessness due to anti-LGBT prejudice, violence, oppression in the pan-Dorset area through DHC services.

Dorset Police follow up to the Network on Transphobic attack in Bournemouth

LGB&T Dorset Equality Network was very pleased to receive today (29th June) a most important and welcome ‘Community Assurance’ email from Dorset Police’s Inspector Darren Harris (Bournemouth South Neighbourhood Policing Team) concerning the brutal attack of a group of transphobes in Nth Bournemouth last week against a Trans community member.

This further to our swift representation and call for action on this violent attack on Raul and by extension the whole BCP area Trans and LGBT+ community, that we represented to the DPCC and Dorset Police:

Inspector Harris updated the Network that Dorset Police had, realising the importance and significance of the attack [which according to ourselves / the Network, along with many others on our LGBT+ community side, had a major tarnishing impact on the name of Bournemouth as an inclusive LGBT+ safe & friendly resort and town] focused major attention on tracing and making direct contact with the victim of the attack. This to gather much fuller detail in order to maximise tracing the anti-LGBT group in the Nth Dorset area where the horrific attack took place.

We are being kept update in earnest by Dorset Police on the action they are taking, and hope that the attackers will soon be identified and apprehended. This will do much to reassure and support or Bournemouth area LGBT+ community, and of course counteract the very negative national and even international attention caused to Bournemouth given the nature of this horrific attack.

We are very pleased that Dorset Police are taking this matter with the seriousness it deserves; we thank Inspector Harris for his contact to us, and also the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (DPCC) for his support.

Violent attack on Trans community member in Bournemouth — Network takes action with alert to DPCC

This morning Weymouth Gay Group (WGG) contacted us alerted us to the horrific violent transphobic attack in Bournemouth that has just taken place.

Pink News (source of image above from the link below) has done a fantastic job on highlighting the significance of the attack for Bournemouth’s reputation as Trans and LGBT+ friendly and safe, and on public service organisations (police) with responsibilities in this field:

The Network on learning of this horrific attack at the request of WGG contacted our new Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC) Mr David Sidwick, immediately, and within minutes received a call to Network lead Alan Mercel-Sanca, and shortly after received the important statement below from the DPCC directly.

The DPCC in responding swiftly to the Network’s raising the incident this morning with him, and it’s reception by and impact on the LGBT+ community has said: 

This incident/attack is utterly appalling and I am Not indifferent! I will be raising it as a matter of community concern.

The Bournemouth Echo later also provided a news article in which the DPCC provided fuller reasons for his statement to the Network, above:

The Network provides its fullest solidarity with Ruan at this difficult time! We believe that such anti-LGBT+ hate crimes require multi agency (local authority/BCP Council, as well as the police and DPCC, and Prejudice Free Dorset (PFD): clearly NHS support on the mental health impacts of such anti-LGBT+ ASB, too) coordinated action and very clear messaging.

Bournemouth is a nationally and internationally important tourism destination, and with a substantial LGBT+ community. Violent hate crime incidents such as this, which in the link above the whole of the LGBT+ population of Portugal are now aware of, harm our society, reputation, and ultimately economy.

On providing this news article (early evening of Friday 25th June) we are very pleased to see that Dorset Police are taking the incident very seriously. Hopefully the culprits who committed this hideous attack will be apprehended swiftly, protecting LGBT+ community members.

However, we note that as Ruan is a BAME international community member, it appears that he may not have been made aware of the reporting processes as fully as is clearly necessary. This is something that needs to be looked at in earnest from the relevant authorities sides and employers and student services providers in terms of need-to-know information provided before or immediately on international community members settling or staying in the BCP area. This certainly applies as much on race-related, as with LGBT+ related ASB risk experiences.

JP Morgan grant support to assist Network in its Homeless initiative and Prison Service support activity

The Network is delighted to share the news that further to an approach to us by JP Morgan, who had heard of our ground-breaking work, we made a grant application to JP Morgan that has been successful. Specifically this greatly appreciated grant will assist us in our further development of our LGBT+ & LGBTQ Homeless initiative and the important support activity we are providing to the prison service (HMPPS) at the two Portland prisons and broader Avon & South Dorset HMPPS Group.

A huge thank you to JP Morgan; their support shows their enthusiastic commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion!

Network congratulations to our new DPCC David Sidwick on his election:

The Network is very pleased to provide our congratulations to David Sidwick on his election — — as our new Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (DPCC). David has as early as 2019 engaged directly with the Network on the particular policing, ASB hate crimes, and prejudice experiences that in May 2021 still are all too commonplace for many members of our community.

In particular, much more recently we engaged with David in regard to support should he be elected, concerning the particular needs of our Dorset & BCP area LGBT+ & LGBTQ homeless community, and we were delighted to learn that the Network’s initiative in support to our LGBT+ & LGBTQ community is one that if elected, David will be supporting in all relevant ways and areas if elected:

David is also supporting the Network on our activity to extend the Ask for Clive (AfC) initiative, we are very pleased to share.

On 12th May, Alan Mercel-Sanca, Network lead founder and Lead Officer, had a meeting with David, in which important discussions took place on the two initiatives above and broader LGBT+ & LGBTQ Dorset & BCP, DPCC relevant areas of activity. The outcomes of the discussions were very exciting.

The Network also wishes to commend that the Green Party DPCC candidate Ms Claire Seymour (a former police officer), was in addition to Dave the only DPCC candidate to contact us and engage in detail. We really appreciate Claire’s engagement too, and the particular points of support to and respect for our Dorset & BCP LGBT+ & LGBTQ community are ones that we will be looking forward to represent to our new DPCC in the months ahead.