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Community
giving advice, supporting people

This section contains some examples of ways to get involved with organisations that provide support and advice to people in need. There are many ways to become an active citizen in this area, each involving different levels of commitment, skills and responsibility.

In this section of the guide we focus on the roles of:

Things to consider

As an LGBT person interested in starting or increasing your involvement in this area of work, you might want to consider:

  • Working with organisations that provide advice and support to people in vulnerable and disadvantaged groups can be emotionally draining and you may hear some harrowing stories. You will need to commit to the time you spend volunteering – you can’t let people down. It can often be difficult to offer any practical help – the resources simply may not be available, which can be frustrating
  • As an active LGBT person you can help to address some of the issues relating to vulnerable groups of LGBT people. For example in relation to youth homelessness:
    - a survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research and Stonewall Housing found that sexuality is a major factor in the creation of housing crisis for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people
    - many mainstream service providers working with homeless people are unaware or are unconvinced that young lesbian, gay and bisexual are more likely to become homeless than their heterosexual peers
  • All over the world lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted just for being who they are. There are no official figures detailing the number of LGBT people that have sought asylum in this country, and in Scotland there are currently no dedicated services that meet the needs of LGBT asylum seekers. As an LGBT person volunteering with an asylum seeker and refugee support organisation, you can highlight some of the issues facing LGBT asylum seekers. Amnesty International produce country reports detailing examples of human rights abuses and torture of LGBT people – their publication “Crimes of Hate, Conspiracy of Silence – Torture and Ill-Treatment Based on Sexual Identity” can be downloaded at www.amnesty.org
  • You could play a vital role in highlighting hidden issues that affect LGBT communities, such as same-sex domestic violence. You can also help to develop effective referral systems between LGBT groups and other organisations, so that victims receive practical and non-judgemental support
  • If you are an openly LGBT member of an advice and support organisation, you may have been elected (if it’s a board level position), or may be expected, to represent the LGBT community. It will be important to be clear about when you are sharing your knowledge and experience as an individual and when you need to consult with other LGBT people in order to include the different needs and opinions of our diverse community. Also, other people might assume that you will only have interests or expertise in relation to LGBT issues, such as support for LGBT homeless people. They may need reminding that you can have as much to offer on issues that are not specific LGBT people, such as poverty or bereavement, as anyone else.

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