National Diversity Awards
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Vote - Intercom Trust (Community Organisation Award - LGBT)

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The Intercom Trust is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+ charity.

We are in our 20th year of working in the South West to build a society where LGBT+ people can live with equality and respect, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Intercom Trust has the following six service-areas:

• Help, Support and Advocacy – This service provides direct support to members of the public who are in need because of prejudice or discrimination. The service accounts for the majority of Intercom's activities. We operate a helpline service as well as employing Community Support Workers who provide local face-to-face support. We also offer a low-cost counselling service. The demands placed on our Help, Support and Advocacy service have never been greater. We have a strong evidence-base; both for the need for our work, and for the real difference it makes to people’s lives.

• Training - We provide general LGTB+ awareness-training sessions as well as bespoke and specialist training on specific LGBT+ issues to all sorts of organisations, but in particular to schools, the public-sector, third-sector agencies, and commercial firms. We recently launched a new online training package for NHS mental health practitioners, which has been very well received.

• Events – We hold regular conferences to share the findings of our research, our consultations, and other identified community issues. We also hold regular Gender Identity conferences, "Lost in Transition”, which seek to educate professionals about the issues facing trans people. We also facilitate a number of LGBT+ Support Groups for adults as well as organising "Gender Identity Family Days" for young trans+ people and their families, to give them a safe space to come together and share their experiences.

• Consultancy - As a community-skilled resource, Intercom provides consultancy, needs-assessments and diversity-proofing for many organisations and in particular for local government, the police and the NHS.

• Infrastructure Support - As the only LGBT+ infrastructure organisation in the South West of England we maintain a directory of around 100 LGBT+ grassroots organisations in the region and provide infrastructure support to them as needed.

• Community Consultation - Intercom carries out community surveys, community consultations, community engagement projects and research; and reports on the findings.

Over the past 20 years, Intercom's services have adapted to the changing social and economic climate, and throughout this time Intercom has steadily grown to meet its increasing demands. Our small but dedicated team continue to deliver high quality services across the South West to meet the changing needs of our LGBT+ communities.

We are making significant advances in developing cross-agency working in order to reduce health inequalities and improve service delivery across the South West. For example, we have an active working partnership with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which has the national remit for GIDS, the Gender Identity Service, which provides clinical support for under-18s living with gender conflict and variance and their families. Similarly, we have developed an excellent working relationship with Plymouth University Clinical Psychology Department. This includes doctorate students joining us on placement part-time as valued expert members of the Help, Support and Advocacy team. We also work with local police authorities to support victims of crime as well as with clinical commissioning groups and councils to help people with mental health and/or social care needs.

Intercom started in 1997 to address visible gaps in social health and wellbeing services for LGB people in the South West. The founders identified social isolation as a key problem for many, made worse by a lack of local community initiatives and community-led support for the most vulnerable. Additionally, there were no effective community voices campaigning locally for the needs of LGB minorities.

The Founders of Intercom mandated that it never lose sight of the facts that:

• We are, and must remain, community led; and that

• Many service users are not Out because of their anxieties about, or real experiences of, prejudice and discrimination.

Despite advances in legislation and societal attitudes, for some unfortunately, the need for these mandates remains as critical today as they were in 1997.

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