June is Pride Month. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic changing how we mark the month, efforts have been made across the county to ensure events go ahead in a different way.
As well as Pride celebrations, North Yorkshire County Council is determined to ensure that people who use its services and who are LGBTQ+ have a positive experience of, and equal access to, health and social care.
Healthwatch North Yorkshire has released a report on LGBTQ+ people’s experience of using health and social care services across the county so their voices can be heard to bring about continuing improvements in services.
Healthwatch is an independent organisation that commissioned the report.
The County Council aims to be an inclusive organisation – and has a commitment to listening to the needs of LGBTQ+ people across the board.
As well as a diverse workforce, the Council is committed to working with the community to ensure their experience of social care is positive and supportive.
Jake Furby runs a business in North Yorkshire providing training and guidance on LGBTQ+ awareness.
Jake, who is LGBTQ+ himself and has worked in the sector for ten years, also provides specific training for North Yorkshire County Council adult social care teams who work with people who have dementia or autism and who are LGBTQ.
He said: “I provide education and awareness on LGBTQ+ issues, specifically around trans awareness at present.
“It’s about education around trans awareness, what is gender and what it means to be trans.
“It looks at life outcomes and the mental health issues surrounding trans people – but also the fact that in ten years, the world will look different with regards to these issues than it looks now.
“It’s about preparing for that and addressing unconscious bias we may hold.
“When I give my training I always say sexual orientation and gender identity is a spectrum.
“There’s no 100 per cent this, that or the other. Seeing it as a spectrum really helps. Within that spectrum, it can be helpful to train staff in the main orientations, identities and pronouns in particular.”
He said: “North Yorkshire has a myriad of different people with a myriad of different needs and it’s about accommodating those.”
Richard Webb, the County Council’s Director of Health and Adult Services, welcomed the independently commissioned and produced Healthwatch North Yorkshire report and said: “This is a thought-provoking report which raises important issues as well as promoting awareness – acknowledging positives and setting out where public services need to do better.
“I would like to thank Healthwatch, and colleagues like Jake, for the work that they are doing. North Yorkshire County Council was pleased to take part in Harrogate Pride in Diversity last year and to fly the rainbow flag above County Hall, as a very visible marker of the work that we are doing as an employer and within communities.
“This year, we want people’s voices to be heard through the media to encourage us all to do more to ensure that an equal and inclusive approach is the norm and not an exception. Listening to people’s experiences, and acting upon them, is crucial.
“We would ask all health and social care organisations to share this report and ask themselves are they responding positively and what more could they do?”