Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Week 2// Meetings and Plans

A Brief is Born

We needed to start directing our research towards and aim and so during a tea/lemsip-loaded weekend we have drafted a working brief which has been approved by the group so far.  The brief outlines our research methodology and describes our focus on the community to create a research and analysis package to act as a toolkit for the project to be sustainably maintained.  In essence, we are aiming to creat a vision for an open quarter that will provide for the needs of all cohorts of the LGBT community in Sheffield.  This will be catalysed by a brief for a design competition to create a community centre at the heart of the quarter.


Creating Connections

Time to mobilise! Throughout the last few days we have been organising meetings with various LGBT centres in Manchester and Birmingham.  Looking locally, we have been getting in touch with the contacts we already have within the University and within our own personal networks - such as the Sheena Amos Youth Trust and the Centre for HIV, as well as Shout! and the MSM Community Health Workers. The more diverse the range of people we can correspond with, the more we can ensure that the range of needs of the community are sensitively addressed and that everyone has a voice.

Sheffield University LGBT Committee Meeting

Yesterday evening two members of the Live Project group attended the second LGBT Committee Meeting of the academic year at Sheffield University Students Union.  Following on from the first committee we attended in the previous week where we introduced ourselves, we outlined the aims of the project and the sort of data and voices we wanted to record.

LGBT Committee Meeting at the Sheffield University Students' Union, Attended by Committee Members, interested parties, a CHIV representative, a representative from Staff LGBT and LGBT Sheffield as well as two members from the SSoA Live Project group. 

For this particular meeting we put in a request to coordinate with the union committee on their National Coming Out Day event on 11 October. We agreed to set up participatory activities during the event to ask mainly the student population to map their perception of LGBT-Frienly areas within the city and general thoughts on what an LGBT community space should involve.

LGB@50+ Portrait Exhibition

During the comittee meeting, one of the attendees who worked for the Centre for HIV mentioned a photography exhibition that was going on simultaneously at The Circle. Having said our peace, we excused ourselves from the meeting and ran to the event. It was the opening for the display of portraits of LGB persons and couples over the age of 50, promoting health and support.  The event was attended by the organisers and various members of LGBT Sheffield as well as the subjects of the portraits themselves.  We spoke with some of the people there asking about the various LGBT networks already in existence and the facility for support for the elderly. There seemed to be a resounding agreement for the need for a permanent LGBT space within the city to strengthen the links between the various organisations and provide a go-to place for information and support.

It was fantastic to talk especially to the subjects of the portraits and hear their stories, especially on the environment they had to live through during more homophobic times.  A number of them were avid activists and we met two members of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality who have between them been to many demonstrations throughout the UK and abroad - including the 1million strong Stonewall demonstrations in New York.

Armand, Katherine pictured with John at the LGB@50+ Portrait Exhibition

We were made to face our ignorance at the freedoms many of us now take for granted and that were fought for by people such as those we met at the exhibition and activists such as Edward Carpenter - whose foundation we have been referred to by some of the organisers.  Hopefully we will be able to arrange more meetings with the people we could learn so much more from and those whose voices may be quiet but are made especially pertinent by the wisdom of their experience.

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