Brighton is home to thriving communities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Research from the University of Brighton is helping to support their needs, change policy and professional practice, and provide protection for vulnerable people where wider society’s attitudes are adversely affecting their lives.
Since 2003, academics at the University of Brighton have undertaken participatory action research to identify the specific health and wellbeing needs of LGBT people in areas such as mental health, suicide prevention, safety, housing, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol. The research has changed local and national policy and reshaped services to reflect the diverse needs and experiences of LGBT communities.
Participatory action research involves people in the design, implementation and the dissemination of research, not simply as ‘subjects’. This research has produced new knowledge about the mental health, health, housing and community safety needs of LGBT communities, demonstrating a need for a broader social policy and wellbeing framework that includes but, also, moves beyond constrained views of abuse and hate crime.
In the UK, the research has influenced policy resulting in the first local LGBT housing strategy and the first suicide strategy in Brighton and Hove that focuses centrally on the needs of LGBT people. Recommendations from the research have also been adopted by the Department of Health, the UK Drug Policy Commission, the Cabinet Office and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and other parts of the world are following suit, with national and state policy in Australia using the university’s research to improve services for LGBT people.
This work is being taken forward internationally by Professor Kath Browne, who is leading a new project funded by the ESRC as one of its 2014 transformative research projects into what makes a life that is liveable including examining the impacts of equalities legislation in the UK and India.
In Brighton a project called Count Me In Too (CMIT), with lead researcher Dr Browne, worked with the University’s Community University Partnership Programme and has been central to the development of local policies on alcohol, community safety and domestic violence, as well as contributing directly to LGBT-specific housing issues being a focus of the city’s housing strategy.