There are many myths surrounding the issues of transgender and intersex men and women. The lack of awareness of the discrimination many ‘trans’ people face in the areas of employment and service delivery, often leaves many feeling isolated, vulnerable, frustrated and undervalued.
In December 2006, Sefton Equalities Partnership responded by establishing the ‘In-Trust Community Empowerment Network with the aim of:
- Providing support and guidance for men and women with an intersex or transgendered history in Sefton
- Positively promoting best practice around employing people from this community
- Working with both voluntary and public sector organisations to identify the barriers to employment and service delivery faced by this community
- Combating transphobia, promoting greater acceptance and rights for all ‘trans’ people
- Providing a safe place to explore and express personal gender identity, providing advice and support with transitioning
The formation of the network highlighted that the most pressing issues for Transgender people were the lack of employment opportunities and the discrimination faced in the job market. In-Trust worked with its members to formulate a strategy encouraging employers to be positive about transgender people and with support from ‘Press for Change’, launched its first ‘Employers Award’ for organisations that actively sought to remove these barriers and provide a supportive atmosphere for people with an intersex or transgendered history; In-Trust members voted for Sefton CAB
Take well-managed risks
In June 2007, public and voluntary sector organisations were invited to In-Trust’s launch event, attracting people from across the Northwest; money raised were used to support the work of ‘Press for Change’ who campaign on behalf of transgender people.
Share innovative practice
In-Trust exists to challenge transphobia and discrimination, and is building links with other groups, promoting issues of importance to transgender and intersex people and informing the agenda of the LSP and other key bodies. This alliance shares and highlights areas of good practice and identifies areas for joint working in order to improve service delivery to the community. It acts to support and increase the members’ involvement and contribution in decision making and the improvement of public services in Sefton. The In-Trust Network established a mobile exhibition stand, which provides information on the Sefton Third Party Hate Crime Reporting scheme and the Sefton Community Empowerment Network, raising levels of awareness and promoting equality and diversity.
It also provides equality and diversity training for all sectors, and played a significant consultative role in producing the Sefton Equalities Partnerships Gender
Equality Scheme.This has helped to embed best practices and procedures into the mainstream work environment. Above all, the group fosters a sense of inclusion and celebration of each member as unique and valued (trans) person and citizen.
Award winning network
Since the inception of the network in 2006, the work which has been developed has received recognition at local, regional and national level.
The network received an award for its innovative practice in employment from the North West Employers in 2008 and more recently from the National Health Service Journal when it was highly commended in coming second in the category for Reducing Health Inequalities through its Volunteering Programme in partnership with NHS Sefton.
It has been cited by both the NHS Employers and the Local Government Improvement and Development (formerly the IDeA) as an example of innovative practice in employment. In-Trust has presented its work to ICOCO/ IDeA Event on preparing a response to the Dept of Health on the ‘Better Together’ next steps strategy (Marmott Review) and has contributed to the DoH Volunteering Strategy Programme.
The network has recently been short-listed as European Community Project of the Year 2011 by the European Diversity Awards sponsored by the Runneymede Trust
The future for In-Trust Merseyside
Given changes in recent times and to respond to the growing membership of In-Trust, the members recently had a futures planning day. The overwhelming consensus was to continue to build upon the programmes of existing work, Transgender Equality Training, Volunteer Programme, Navajo Merseyside LGBT Charter mark, Rainbow Lives, Silver Pride and to work to support other groups and organisations across Merseyside in developing their work to support transgender people.
The network will now be adopting not only a new name, “In-Trust Merseyside” but also taking the structure of a social enterprise. In so doing the members believe they can ensure the long term sustainable future for the network for the benefit of transpeople who still remain in isolation and to ensure service providers understand the barriers which still exist for transpeople even with improved equalities legislation.
The network currently meets the first Saturday of every month from 3pm till 5pm at SING Plus Centre, 53 Cambridge Road, Seaforth, Liverpool, L21 1EX and usually go for a meal at a local restaurant afterwards.
The meetings are very informal and up-dates on progress with network activities are discussed along with topics of interest and support.