Advonet, in partnership with CHANGE and Yorkshire MESMAC, have been granted funding from the Government and Equalities Office to pilot free self-advocacy groups for LGBTQ+ people in Leeds, to support them to be better involved in their healthcare.

The courses, which have been developed by people with lived experience, are for LGBTQ+ people who are also either autistic, have a learning disability or mental health difficulties. They will run from this month until March next year.

The course has been developed by Andrew Farrell, who has extensive experience working in frontline mental health roles and delivering counselling within the third sector. He states: “I was really attracted to developing and facilitating this course as I have repeatedly witnessed the challenges faced by these marginalised groups through my front-line work.

“Belonging to two or more under-represented groups can magnify barriers to accessing vital support and the key aim of this course has been to remove some of those barriers, enabling people to flourish.”

Cheryl Ferris-Stewart, one of the project’s workers says “Since I’ve started working on this project I’ve learnt more about my rights, feel more confident and I generally feel I am able to cope better in the world. The project is important so that people can learn about their rights.

“A lot of the time, we’re not told what our rights are or what we’re entitled to. You might think you know communication or how to speak to people, but we can always learn how to better communicate to achieve our goals, have our rights respected and stand up for ourselves, and these are all vital elements of the course.”

For a list of dates or more information on the courses, please email [email protected] or call the Advonet office on 0113 244 0606 and ask for Georgina.