‘I want to choose – its more transformative if you get the right person’

This was the overriding statement from a well-attended joint presentation of findings from the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol, Stonewall – national campaigning organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, or Intersex (LGBTQI+) equality, Regard – a national disabled people’s organisation for LGBTQI+ equality and the Social Care Institute of Excellence – a national organisation with a remit to improve the lives of people who use social care, at the end of October 2017 in London.

LGBTQI+ disabled people, self—directed social care support.  The principal investigator for this project was Professor David Abbott.

The focus of self-directed support is a way of people having more choice and control over their social care support. The aims of this study were threefold.  Firstly, to understand more about the little researched experiences of using self-directed social care support by LGBTQI+ disabled people.  Secondly to discover if they are, or could be, supported by adult social care professionals through self-directed social care. Finally, they also aimed to improve social care professionals understanding of and approaches to LGBTQI+ disabled people, so enhancing care experiences.

This research project also aimed at gaining insight from support workers and personal assistants (PA) on ways to successfully support and empower LGBTQI+ disabled people and to overcome challenges or barriers encountered.

The study involved qualitative interviews with 20 LGBTQI+ disabled people; a focus group for PA’s and a survey of 56 LGBTQI+ disabled adults who used self-directed social care in England.

Key findings from the study showed that more often than not, people in the study felt their sexual orientation or gender identity were ignored. Other concerns included coming out to social care staff jeopardising support; difficulties in recruiting and retaining good Pas; difficulties in securing support for social /leisure opportunities, which has led to social isolation; and reactions of other people.

In relation to assessments, it was found that these should emphasise the whole person, and not ignore sexual orientation or gender identity. A common comment related to this not being found on forms, just binary male/female. It was recommended that professional staff should draw upon their training, ethical practice and legal obligations to raise equalities issues confidently and sensitively.

Overall, in both interviews and surveys, people talked about the many benefits and challenges encountered in relation to self-directed social care support.  There is also a need for more targeted support and information for LGBTQI+ disabled people as well as more information for their PAs.

A full range of the research findings and other resources developed by the project can be found on the SCIE website.

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World AIDS Day

As part of World AIDs Day 2017, we are hosting two events in Medway and Canterbury to show support and solidarity for those living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDs-related illness.

We invite you to attend these two events:

World AIDS Day – Film Screening & Discussion

Date: Friday 01-December-17

Time: 1300-1400

Location: Drill Hall Library (Universities at Medway, North Rd, Gillingham, Chatham Maritime ME4 4AG)

World AIDS Day – Remembrance Vigil

Date: Friday 01-December-17

Time: 17:45-19:00

Location: University Chapel, Canterbury Christ Church University, North Holmes Road Campus, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 1QU

Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th

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Change is possible! A former CCCU student shares her story.

On 20th of November we mark Transgender Remembrance Day to remember those who have suffered or even lost their lives because of transphobia, and to remind ourselves and others that this fight is not over.

However, there is hope and change is possible! A couple of months ago we at the CCCq received an unexpected email titled ‘Greetings from LA LA Land’. The message was from a former student of Canterbury Christ Church University (then College) who had a remarkable story to tell about her time here and, more importantly, what happened afterwards. She got in contact to offer up her story as a way of showing that even the most conservative of organisations can be open to the views of the individuals even when politics is telling you otherwise.”

We will let Kerry Michelle to tell the story in her own words:

Back in the 1980’s I was a big advocate for the Gay and Lesbian community at Christ Church, to the point I outed myself at a Clause 28 meeting when the college wanted to take down all the material that could be “promoting” homosexuality on campus out of the Student Union. I stood up and said I was going to shut down all social activities in the Union, including the van driving I did for the sports teams, as being bisexual I was effectively promoting homosexuality by booking or supporting any social event. This had the shock effect I wanted and we were able to compromise with the college on certain activities.

Spool on and here we are in 2017 and I am so excited to see an LGBTQ group within the Christ Church staff community especially as we see the current Republican administration here in the US doing so much blatant damage to our core existence. 

So what has this to do with Christ Church Canterbury University? Well as an ex-student, didn’t really excel except at making social statements in the Union (tried to limit smoking in public spaces in 1988 which was a little too forward thinking for some). I have gone on to be a vocal voice for the oppressed over here in California and most recently at Disney corporate in Burbank.

Disney did a big Pride event about inclusion on the Studio Lot and were patting themselves on the back. In an open Q&A I stood up and asked where the non-gender specific bathrooms were on the studio campus knowing full well there were none, after a very awkward pause I was told they were hoping to have some on the ABC Studio campus next door. To which I stated that as a transgender woman I had nowhere to go on the studio campus and felt awkward using the gents as I had to wear uncomfortable clothes and be within an environment I am not welcome.IMG_1769

Following on from that I have made improvements to the campus in that we have agreed non gender threatening environments, identified spaces we can use and push their LGBT awareness and acceptance HR agenda. All of this is not bad for a contractor who is not even staff. Disney have been so awesome now they have completely reassigned my credentials in Disney World Wide to be Kerry Michelle in all security and access databases. This took a couple of weeks but as far as Disney is concerned I am a woman and have the same rights as a cis woman.

We are grateful for Kerry Michelle for sharing her story, and for reminding us that positive change is possible even in the most unexpected places! If anyone would like to get in touch with Kerry Michelle, please contact the CCCq Network at cccq.equality@canterbury.ac.uk and we can pass on your message. She has also promised a free studio tour for anyone visiting in Hollywood and trust me, the committee is so very tempted!

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