Specialist LGBT+ Advice, Support and Advocacy

This service works with vulnerable LGBT+ people to address hate crime, domestic abuse and family abuse within a multi disciplinary prevention, health and wellbeing partnership framework, sensitive to all the local cultural/faith issues in City, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham. 

If you wish to refer yourself or a client to our service please email help@rainbowhamlets.org.

Our innovative casework model provides a wraparound approach to systematically address with each person every aspect of their own health and wellbeing, leading to more successful prosecutions, improved life outcomes and greater community cohesion. We provide services and also manage referrals to orchestrate/inform a package of interventions with providers that together address the complex needs of often highly vulnerable people.

These include mental health. general health, gender dysphoria, trauma and PTSD, family abuse, substance misuse, longterm conditions including HIV, sexual health.  housing, asylum, primary care, self care, volunteering and exercise.

We offer all our services and activities in numerous locations across the east end. Some people prefer for reasons of confidentiality or safety not to be seen near their home. We meet clients in spaces or locations that best match their need and progress whilst ensuring they always have confidentiality.

Reducing stigma and promoting intra-community cohesion We also integrate clients into our wider community and volunteer programme, and work with them to re-socialise them into an extended community nearby to reduce their isolation and increase their confidence and capacity. This also gives them a pathway towards work.

This model is absolutely unique in London and is having enormous impact. As a result of our work Pride in London asked us to lead the health and wellbeing section of their parade this year. Our mixed group of allies and community members, including clients, rode a specially decorated Pride Bus promoting hate crime and DV awareness, smoking cessation and volunteering through the borough, stopping to distribute literature and pickup participants before forming up in the parade. 20 volunteers, 50 participants, age range 15-65+, 100s of local people engaged, thousands of leaflets disseminated, a stand in Trafalgar Sq with Barts Health.

Specialist language and cultural competency Salma K the only Bengali speaking Muslim caseworker working in an LGBT+ context in the UK. She is a qualified Independent domestic abuse advocate and counsellor. In the CEO, Jack Gilbert, there is someone with a 25 year track record of leading services in London and internationally supporting people of diverse faith and culture to address LGBT+ intersectional identity, complex family issues, hate crime and domestic abuse, policing and their wider health and wellbeing.

We work with clients from all communities, however we are the only agency in London with direct highly developed, specialist expertise of LGBT-related family abuse within the Bangladeshi community. More positively, we are also the only professional agency to be asked to provide confidential support to Muslim parents by their offspring to prevent family breakdown and to reduce the impact of family rupture. These are all known determinants of poor health and wellbeing. LGBT-related honour based violence, and forced marriage are real issues in Tower Hamlets that only we address.

The only face-to-face service for same sex victims of DV We offer the only face to face support to male victims of domestic abuse locally. Victim Support offer purely telephone support in relation to the specific incidents, whereas our approach addresses the ‘whole person’.

Safeguarding people with self harm or suicidal ideation We have worked with people who were planning their own death, with self harm and suicide ideation, who had turned away from A&E and been poorly served by police, health and other public or third sector agencies. We have saved lives, getting them emergency intervention. We have provided a bridging service to clients waiting to be assessed by the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) by risk assessing those who are at risk of suicide and providing emotional therapeutic intervention in the process. CMHT are now bringing us into internal case meetings to consider treatment pathways with trans clients.

Male or trans victims of domestic or family abuse do not have access to refuge places. We have had to orchestrate interventions with Crisis Intervention (East London Mental Health Trust), housing and the police to find alternative protective strategies. There is no pan London LGBT+ agency that would even attempt such local intervention. In fact such local cases have been referred from the pan London Domestic Abuse Partnership to us.

Working with people that generic agencies struggle to engage with or assist. Specialist gender identity expertise.  Our experience is the most traumatised and vulnerable clients in the midst of a crisis have learnt to distrust the way generic services address them and yet also need help to make sense of the complexity. With us, there is no question of judgment and no need to explain. Many report we are the first agency ever to truly understand them.  This includes trans men and women in a system which can leave them for up to 20-22 months before the NHS will prescribe hormones. This means many self-medicate, with most GPs are not aware of the RCGP guidance to protect them from this in the meantime. Many face potential or actual homelessness.  Many of our clients  fall into abusive relationships in this period, resort to substances to cope, have numerous hate incident experiences, and often family abuse. Add that disability, cultural and religious factors.

Many of our clients have neuro-diverse conditions such as dyspraxia or Aspergers, some undiagnosed, and face tremendous barriers getting support for life.

Mulit-agency working and case review Our cases are reviewed at the MARAC and Hate Incident Panel, where our ability to disentangle complex needs, and build cultural competency in other services has been widely recognised. As we work with partners we build their capacity and awareness, often receiving referrals from them. Similarly we work with other LGBT agencies across London. A psychiatric consultant at the NHS Gender Identity Clinic for London recently called our service ‘unique in the UK’, after seeing one of our clients.

Providing long term support towards recovery and self actualisation, dignity and genuine control Some of our most vulnerable clients stay with us for over a year, long after the incident which brought them to us. As we continually monitor and review, we examine what we can offer and the impact it will have. As we work with them we see them moving out of initial trauma into recovery. Our advocacy helps them to address the barriers to this process and manage the risks associated. It is only because we offer this approach that these very vulnerable people find a path to self actualisation, dignity and genuine control free from abuse, harm or neglect. No other single service in London could achieve this.

This work integrates with other programmes: Community events; volunteering; cohesion and community advocacy; research and innovation; community engagement.

By increasing trust and confidence and integrating victims into the wider LGBT+ community, we also develop broader cohesion impacts and resiliency.

There are no other single agency in London who would ensure these complex needs are addressed in this way.