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Archive for June 2008

This week's episode features the speech by EHRC Chair Trevor Phillips to business leaders from the North of England at a working luncheon organised recently in Leeds.

The media's stereotype of business attitudes to equality and diversity issues is a crude one, which tends to emphasise opposition towards regulation and any moves that might impact upon profits or flexibility. The reality is more complex. Many businesses understand already that embracing diversity is a good thing, and that private or corporate enterprise cannot pretend to exist in a bubble somehow divorced from larger issues about the kind of society we have.

Trevor's speech reflected the former sensitivities whilst reaching out for a more sophisticated dialogue.

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A few days ago I was invited to an event at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, organised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It was billed as a working lunch with business leaders from the North of England to talk about what Equality and Rights developments mean to the private sector. In the next episode I'll be presenting Trevor Phillips' speech to that audience. But first, in this item, Trevor spoke to me about the commission's first nine months of operations, the initiatives already underway, and his hopes for the future. In addition to Trevor I also speak to EHRC's Director of English Regions, Tim Wainwright.

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This week I'm presenting the third and final part in a series of episodes based on the recent Department of Health conference on LGBT Mental Health, which took place at the end of May in Nottingham. (For more details see part one)

I entitled my own presentation "Transgender Realities" and proceeded to pull very few punches about research-based evidence of trans people's experiences of health discrimination, in a factual approach aimed directly at the 130 healthcare professionals present. I regrettably had to publicly criticise Nottingham PCT itself, having adopted a commissioning policy which is clearly discriminatory and unlawful in my view.

If you wish to follow the presentation slides then you'll find these here.

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This week I'm presenting the second of three episodes in which you can hear the speakers at the recent Department of Health conference on LGBT Mental Health in Nottingham. (For more details see last week's part one).

Tim Franks is the Chief Executive of PACE, a leading London-based charity which promotes mental health and well-being within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community there.

In his presentation Tim talks about the different reasons that LGBT people may have for connecting with Mental Health services. Like many of the day’s speakers he emphasises that whilst being different in these ways is not a mental illness, people have the experiences of discrimination to deal with and, of course, they can experience conditions such as depression or psychotic illnesses like anyone else.

Tim also raises interesting perspectives about the way therapeutic relationships can benefit when service users don’t need to explain aspects of their identity and simply feel that their sexual orientation or gender presentation is accepted. He says that in PACE the service providers ‘come out’ about their position so that the service user doesn’t need to.

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On 28th May the Department of Health organised a major conference on LGBT Mental Health in Nottingham. The event was attended by well over 100 health professionals and the day was led by Professor Clair Chilvers, who is the Chair of Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust.

In this and the following two episodes the speeches of some of the main presenters will be featured in full. For this first programme we hear the introduction from Surinder Sharma, National Director of the Department of Health's Equality and Human Rights Group. Surinder is then followed by Professor Anne Rogers, who holds the chair in Sociology of Health Care at the University of Manchester. Both of these speakers paint a progressive picture of the understanding of the role of mental health, and how thinking is changing (or needs to change) to meet the true needs of people without unnecessarily pathologising their difference.

Copies of Powerpoint presentations and other materials from this conference are now online here.

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