In the past the work of the Forum has focused mostly on campaigning and consulting with the statutory and voluntary sectors, to take forward the equality agenda in respect of LGBT rights. Since the Equality Act 2010 came into force, the majority of LGBT rights have been ensconced in law throughout the United Kingdom.
As the Forum continues to work with the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to support the efforts of Bristol City Council to implement the Equality Act and ensure that LGBT people are included in its scoping, we are especially aware of the multiple discrimination many of us face.
Tackling internal discrimination.
LGBT communities include bisexual and transgendered men and women, older, as well as younger people, travelers, members of Black and Minority Ethnic as well as Faith communities, people with disabilities, chronic or life-threatening health conditions, mental health issues and learning disabilities, LGBT parents or as parents and children of LGBT people.
All too often, though, the ‘gay and lesbian scenes’ unwittingly exclude people, resulting in a set of internal obstacles to inclusion. Though usually due to circumstances beyond the organisers’ control, many venues, club nights and events are not accessible to LGBT people who are wheelchair users, deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or those with a learning disability.
Our own website is a case in point, although we strive to be inclusive, at present we have neither the in-house expertise nor the resources to buy in the necessary software or developer to build visual aids into our website, to make it more accessible for people with visual impairments.
We sincerely regret this and will try to find voluntary partners or fundraise to remedy this as soon as possible. Similarly, we hope to network with other service and leisure operators to address this at a community level, perhaps by pooling resources to retain a specialist Accessibility contractor.
Changing funding formats.
In parallel with changes in the law, the funding landscape for Charities and Non-profit organisations in the UK is also changing; where once funding from local authorities came from grants awarded to enable us to deliver a programme of work, in future we will be expected to go through a competitive tendering process, through Commissioning to deliver services to strictly defined targets.
The changes are likely to result in ‘decommissioning’ by local authorities and the withdrawal of funding in future years.
Our own. three-year Funding Agreement comes to an end this year and there are no guarantees that future funding bids will be successful nor, indeed, that grants will be available for the kind of function the Forum has been serving for the past 17 years.
The Forum has embarked in a comprehensive ‘strip and refit’, using the PQASSO Quality Mark, developed and administered by the Charity Evaluation Service (CES), as a routemap to guide us through a multi-layered self-assessments, prior to applying for independent examination by CES-licensed Assessors. If successful, we shall be awarded the PQASSO Quality Mark, a badge of Quality Assurance that informs commissioning organisations that we are a Third Sector supplier that is ‘fit for purpose’.
The process is lengthy and thorough, involving all Trustees and Staff in closely examining the Charity’s infrastructure and performance over the scope of 12 Quality Areas, each with its own set of criteria and performance indicators.
[This set of guided assessments will map the Charity's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) in the light of the current Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal framework (PESTEL), to produce a report that can usefully inform changes., develp (Gap Analysis). This entails a review of our policies, procedures and documentation as well as requiring an internal skills' audit of current Trustees, Co-optees and staff, alongside a recruitment drive to get more members onto the Management Committee.
The PQASSO process is engaging Trustees, Co-op-tees and Staff, under the guidance of a specialist, licensed Mentor, in a multi-layered sequence of analyses, reviews, discussions and re-crafting of all our Policies, procedures, documentation and training provisions that will reshape LGBT Bristol and enable it to enter into this new arena.]
This set of guided assessments entails a review of our policies, procedures and documentation as well as requiring an internal skills’ audit of current Trustees, Co-op-tees and staff and an assessment of external factors that affect the Forum and its members.
The outcome will be an organisation that is fit-for-purpose, not just for the next few years, but for the new decade, able to tender for service delivery, with an infrastructure and personnel to continue to achieve its aims and objectives within its changing role, in the new funding landscape.
Rebranding and web presence.
Thanks to the generous support-in-kind by Simon Fewkes, of Eckho Media, the ‘rebranding’ of the organisation has been moving forward, with the new logo and headed paper.
Our new website was also launched, to coincide with the rebranding, on a new, self-hosted service, saving a considerable amount of money while giving us more control of email, content management platform, plugins etc.
The Listings section of the website is slowly developing into a permanent, and hopefully useful information hub that will gradually map all activities, groups, services and venues, as well as disseminate information about campaigns, research, surveys and consultations in the City. There is also a Links page that users can submit new links to, that will hopefully encourage new businesses, groups, venues and other initiatives to put themselves on our map.
The new Facebook page is growing and linking up to all and any LGBT individuals and organisation that share our vision and values
How can I get involved?
We welcome active participation from Forum members. If you would like to get involved in our work, as a volunteer, trustee, expert adviser, copywriter or are willing to offer your company’s services or sponsorship, please check out these sections under the “Join Us” tab of the top menu, or else contact us.