LGBTQ+ network

Spotlight on the City & Hackney LGBTQ+ network

We caught up with Caroline Hickey, the LGBTQ+ network coordinator, and Miia Chambers, the chair, to find out more about the network’s aims and ambitions.

Q&A with Caroline

What’s your role with the LGBTQ+ forum?
I am the network coordinator and as such coordinate the administration. I also organise activities, share sector news, organise guest speakers and respond to the needs of the member organisations.

Working closely with the chair, Miia Chambers, we are supporting organisations that attend the forum to have their voices heard and we signposting for further support they need.

What’s the aim of the forum?
Some of the key aims of the forum are to:

  • Create a network of people and organisations working on LGBTQ+ issues
  • Help improve the quality of life for people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and improve access to appropriate services
  • Create cohesion between different working groups and organisations within the boroughs.

In the next forum meeting, there will be a presentation from Rich Pool, a Hate Crime Officer. Could you tell us more about this?
We have invited Rich Pool who is a Hate Crime Officer with the Metropolitan Police Service and based in City and Hackney. The meeting will explore:

  • Avenues for reporting hate crime
  • Where LGBTQ+  people can report hate crime confidentially
  • Trends in reporting since Covid-19
  • Support for LBGTQ+ people
  • % of crimes reported and securing a conviction.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
The LGBTQ+ special interest group meets regularly and is an active and lively group. It’s made up of organisation’s working in the City and Hackney and is a real cross section of people with differing interests and energies.

Q&A with Miia

What’s your role with the LGBTQ+ forum and what do you hope the forum to achieve?
My role is to ensure the continued and effective running of the forum with the support of the forum members and the network coordinator. Our vision is to bring together interested parties in the London Borough of Hackney and the City of London to enhance the safety, services and rights of LGBTQ+ people and organisations in the borough.

A key ambition for us is to achieve greater representation for LGBTQ+ people and organisations in the wider decision-making bodies resulting in policy changes and funding decisions that reflect the voice and needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

What does the plus symbol on LGBTQ+ stand for?
The + stands for the inclusion of people whose sexuality or gender identity are not covered in the letters LGBTQ (i.e. Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer). Some of the identities that are commonly signalled by the + include intersex and asexual identities, yet the + is wider, embracing all diverse and often fluid gender identities and relationships that we humans experience.

An important aspect of gender and relationship diversity is to understand that many people don’t neatly fit one letter or label. Therefore, we live, connect and work from a place of openness, warmth and acceptance for people’s diverse gender identities, sexuality and relationships.

Whilst acknowledging the breadth and diversity of identities we also embrace all those in the LGBTQ+ community for who the identity ‘label’ they share with others can also bring vital aspects of connecting, belonging and understanding.

Why does Hackney need an LGBTQ+ forum?
The collaboration that the forum facilitates also supports understanding of the intersectional aspects of many people’s identities. This links to the above point about people not having to fit labels.

People have many aspects to their identities beyond sexuality and gender identity such as their ethnicity, nationality, faith, class, ability, education and many others that make them who they are. The forum wants to support an approach in public and community life that accepts and respects people as they are without any parts overlooked or discriminated against.

Hackney has one of the highest numbers of people who identify as LGBTQ+. The forum aims to support connections, knowledge sharing and influencing so that the diverse and rich gender identities, sexualities and relationships we have in the borough can live in safety and thrive.

How has the pandemic impacted on LGBTQ+ communities?
It has resulted in greater isolation, increased mental health challenges whilst having fewer face-to-face services and spaces of safety and connection. The LGBTQ+ network is needed more now than ever in providing opportunities for information sharing, collaboration and communication about the needs and gaps in provision across all the sectors.

What makes you proud of this forum?
I’m proud that the forum brings together people and organisations with the aim of making a difference to the lives of LGBTQ+ people. We can hopefully contribute to more active communication across communities and sectors, creating greater understanding between the diverse communities in City and Hackney and impacting service provision and decision making.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We want more people and organisations to get involved in the forum! Do tell us what’s going on and what you think stands in the way of City and Hackney being as safe and supportive a place to live and work in, for LGBTQ+ people, as possible.

 

The + is embracing all diverse and often fluid gender identities and relationships that we humans experience.

Miia Chambers