Guest Blog: Dr Igi Moon

We’re reproducing the speech Igi Moon made at the Parliamentary Launch for the new and revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conversion Therapy.  This document extends the protections afforded to lesbians, gay men and bisexual people from receiving harmful attempts to be heterosexual.  This new document protects people who are gender diverse and those who are asexual from treatments from therapists.

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Parliamentary MoU2 launch event – 4th July 2018

“I am here as Chair of the MoU Coalition against conversion therapy. The coalition is made up of 16 organisations as well as advisory bodies offering clinical and therapeutic services to LGBTQIA people. Together we represent over 100, 000 psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors and healthcare workers.

The main purpose of today’s launch is for MP’s to meet with clinicians and campaigners ahead of the Government’s pledge to ‘end the practice of Conversion Therapy’. While the media yesterday reported an outright ban, we believe a ban will simply play into the hands of organisations that want publicity.

Yesterday – was the launch of the LGBT National survey. 108,100 people responded to the survey. It is the largest of its kind in the world. That is something all LGBT people can be proud of. But while we celebrate this survey we need to take a close look at the finer details of what it is saying about LGBT lives in our society. Because some findings make very uncomfortable reading. They tell a story that is all too familiar to LGBT people who still experience significant inequalities and fear for their personal safety – inequalities and fears that may well take them to see therapists. This is why we want all clinicians in training and practice to be made aware of the range of issues presented in the survey. And for all clinicians to be able to work competently with LGBT people

It is central that LGBT people can explore their feelings and thoughts in safety whether or not it is about their sexuality and/or gender identity with a qualified psychologist, psychotherapist, counsellor, or healthcare worker.

Shockingly, this is simply not the case. In our society, some people believe (for whatever reason) that LGBT people can be ‘cured’ of their sexuality or gender identity if they are LGBT.  Through the use of Conversion Therapy (CT), also known as Reparative or Cure Therapy). More shockingly, they believe that the techniques of CT will suppress or change an LGBT person. These techniques include anything from pseudo-psychological treatments to spiritual counselling. At their most extreme, people in the survey reported undergoing surgical or hormonal interventions or even ‘corrective rape’. It is abhorrent as a practice.

Yesterday, the survey found that a total 7% of respondents had undergone or been offered Conversion Therapy and of this, 2% had undergone and 5% had been offered CT.

It is a very live issue – with young people16-24 more likely to have been offered CT than any other group.

The MoU Coalition published this MoU before the Survey results were announced because we were faced with mounting anecdotal evidence  that we needed to protect  sexual orientation including asexuality AND the variety of gender identities

Thanks to the survey we sadly find that anecdotal evidence was correct.

The survey found

  1. In terms of sexual orientation, Asexual people are the most likely group to undergo and be offered conversion therapy
  2. In relation to Gender Identity – Trans respondents were much more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy more than cis people.
  3. That more trans men have been offered CT than non-binary people or trans women
  4. That more trans women have had conversion therapy than trans men or non-binary people
  5. That those most likely to have been offered CT or undergone CT live in Northern Ireland and London

So, who conducts CT to cis and Trans people?

  1. By far the greatest are faith organisations
  2. Healthcare or a medical professional is second – (with far more trans people being offered CT than cis people)
  3. Parent or guardian or family member
  4. Person from my community
  5. Other individuals or organisations

The fact healthcare and medical professionals conduct CT is a major shock and the MOU is asking that ethical practice is at the core of therapeutic work. This means practitioners must have adequate knowledge and understanding of gender and sexual diversity throughout their training before they can be accredited, registered or chartered. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT MEANS ASKING LGBT PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED – ESPECIALLY TRANS AND NON BINARY PEOPLE.

Both the BPS and BACP have published guidelines for working with gender and sexual minorities. This is a good start but not enough.

Our Training and Curriculum Development sub-Committee find that while organisations say they want to USE THE GUIDELINES AND TRAIN PEOPLE EFFECTIVELY – IN over 7 years of training, it has been found that anything between zero and 16 hours max are spent in total teaching ‘difference’. This needs to change.

Yesterday, the overwhelming statement was

   “This practice (of CT) needs to end”

The Government Equalities Office action plan is to bring an end to the practice of CT.

We want to work with the government on legislative and non-legislative options.

At present we say no to an outright ban because CT is conducted by people who are obviously not therapists in some cases and would not call what they do anything more than a cure for a sickness. It needs more than a ban – it requires education at a young age that allows young people to be who they are without fear.

Likewise, it is still possible in this country to call yourself a counsellor or psychotherapist as these are not protected titles.  We believe that the Government must address this issue.

Where is the MOU next?

2 areas the MOU Coalition are likely to address:

Support for the GRA review because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for trans people to experience wide ranging social change. We must recognise the variety of gender identities as valid. As the Minister for Women and Equalities the Rt Honourable Penny Mordaunt Minister stated yesterday to a ringing round of applause:  “a trans woman is a woman and a transman is a man” and we would add that those who wish to identify in the wide range of gender identities have that option. This is because the survey clearly identified that non-binary identities are on the rise and more respondents identified as non-binary

Second, we hope the General Synod will use the survey and our MoU as an opportunity to extend protection to Trans and non-binary people

Third we all – all of us have a debt to our future young people. We must remember that a central finding yesterday was 2000 people identified starting their transition AT SCHOOL. The survey only started from age 16

The MOU Coalition have brought on board those organisations such as Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids that work with young people under 16 to offer their thoughts about protecting these vulnerable children and teenagers. We are already hearing young people are the victims of Conversion therapy – sometimes in medical settings where we would expect safety. This must be investigated as a matter of urgency. We urge the Government to find out what is happening with young people who identify as LGBT and non-binary.

On a final note,

Over 2/3 of respondents stated they would not hold hands with their partner in public. It is pride on Saturday.  I want to hold hands with the person I love. On Saturday, I want us all to be able to hold hands with those we love in public and in safety because

TO LIVE IN SAFETY IS OUR FREEDOM

AND TO HAVE OUR FREEDOM IS THE GREATEST FORM OF EQUALITY WE CAN SHARE

Thanks to Ben Bradshaw MP for hosting this event, to our speakers. I would like to thank all members of the Coalition and especially Rosie Horne from the BPS for working so hard to bring this event together.

Not quite a Jolly Good Fellow (aka Dominic has a hissy fit)

this was initially published as a site page in March 2018 and has been reproduced here out of date order to the rest of the blog posts

Dominic holding Fellowship Certificate

Dominic Davies receiving fellowship certification from BACP President Cary Cooper

In June 2007, I was delighted to receive the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s highest honour for “distinctive service in the field of counselling and psychotherapy” when I became a Fellow. It was something I’ve always been very proud of, not least because the Organisation tended to only confer Fellowships upon people who have chaired their internal committees and that held no interest for me. One of the other people honoured on the same night was my friend and co-author Professor Lynne Gabriel who the following year went on to Chair BACP’s Board of Governors.

However, as the years have gone by, I’ve become an outspoken critic of BACP. If you just flick through previous blog posts, you’ll see I probably blog about them more than any other topic!

This time last year, I decided to save my £200 and not renew my membership. I’d been a member for 30 years. I’d threatened to do it the year before when BACP was dragging its stilettoes about extending protections to trans and gender-expansive people about expanding the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conversion Therapy. My actual resignation brought a request from the Chief Executive and current Chair of Governors to meet with me to hear my grievances. I was incredibly surprised by this consulted widely to ensure I could use the opportunity to explain the widespread dissatisfaction with the organisation. At our meeting, they received a 13-page document of comments and concerns from members of our Pink Therapy Facebook group and six critical points for my motivations for leaving.

Apparently, I was permitted to remain a Fellow even if I wasn’t a member, and for sentimental reasons, I decided to continue to do so. But with recent events, I’ve changed Fellowship Certificate torn upmy mind. I am renouncing my Fellowship as I feel incredibly angered by their incompetence and duplicity. I realise this is an empty gesture as probably no-one gives a fuck, not least anyone at BACP, but I feel contaminated by associating my name and reputation with theirs. I’ve had enough of them!

The debacle in the latest issue of Therapy Today whereby the editor (despite having been informed of the transphobic nature of an organisation called Transgender Trend (TT) decided to publish two letters effectively advocating for conversion therapy for trans teens and in clear breach of BACP’s undertaking to support the MoU. Incidentally, neither of these two letter writers was a member of BACP. Within 24 hours around 600 people (many of whom are therapists working with trans clients) signed a letter of concern to BACP. I was furious to see the petty spite and gross immaturity of TT’s supporters when they heard of the open letter and used it as an opportunity to leave spiteful and transphobic comments.

The editor and Chair of BACP have both made statements of apology for the Transgender Trend letter, but have remained silent on the one from Bob Withers who is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and member of the British Psychoanalytic Council – both organisations are signatories to the MoU, and I await his censure by those organisations.

It isn’t the first time the editor has been criticised for her lack of understanding of the field of counselling, and there have been numerous calls for her resignation. However, her appointment points to incompetence at the heart of the largest counselling body in the UK. BACP like to think of Therapy Today as a professional journal much of the content is behind a paywall, but the quality is severely lacking due to a lack of experience.  Both the COSRT and BPS journals are edited by  highly experienced professional therapists. However, many of my colleagues report dropping it directly into the recycling bin which is probably where it belongs!

I am pretty upset about tearing up my certificate as I used to be proud to be associated with BACP, but I’m saddened to say, those days are long gone.  I have found a much more welcome home with the National Counselling Society, who two years ago also made me a Fellow and last month appointed me Ambassador for Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversity.

Dominic Davies
CEO – Pink Therapy, Fellow National Counselling Society
Ambassador for Gender, Sexual and Relatioship Diversity

Box of Ferrero Rocher with a note from the CEO of National Counselling Society

The CEO of the National Counselling Society sent me some Ferror Rocher to assist in my Ambassadorial duties

Nothing About Us, Without Us

tl,dr http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/16237_gender-sexual-relationship-diversity-001.pdf

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to finally be able to say positive things about the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) which is the UK’s largest therapy organisation, by a long chalk.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with my having been quite critical of the BACP, which a decade ago kindly made me a Fellow of the organisation for my contribution to the field (having helped bring a trilogy of UK textbooks on working with LGBT people to the fruition back in 1996 and 2000, and founding Pink Therapy the organisation. I had hoped that might be the start of a much closer working relationship, but sadly not.  I finally resigned from BACP in March of this year (a year later than I thought I would) as I felt they still hadn’t made any significant progress to address my concerns.

After I resigned, I was gobsmacked that their CEO, Dr Hadyn Williams and their Chair, Dr Andrew Reeves came down to London to ask me more about the reasons for my resignation and dissatisfaction with the organisation.  Having consulted with colleagues, I was able to give them a 12-page document of comments and six significant points of concern of my own:

  1. Lack of Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversity (GSRD) awareness amongst staff within the profession and amongst accredited courses.
  2. GSRD Counsellors are frequently experiencing a lack of understanding on their training courses which consistently fail to address their training needs or support them.
  3. Uncritical acceptance of highly contested concepts: Sex addiction workshops and porn addiction training are being supported by them when there is no agreement of these ‘conditions’ within the DSM or by WHO.
  4. Minimal curriculum development for courses on GSRD issues.  BACP could be leading the way and setting standards regarding core competencies and the development of teaching resources.
  5. Lacking in loyalty towards its members – not putting counsellors first – regarding their pay and contracts. Continuing to promote employers advertising for very low-paid counselling posts.
  6. Not having secured a way to retain people like Professor Michael Jacobs on the UK Register.  To require someone of his experience and stature to sit the ‘proficiency test’ is an insult to someone who helped build BACP back in the 1980’s.

I felt I was given a decent listening to and we shared some concerns.  They asked me if I’d be willing to be consulted on issues where my experience was relevant, and I eagerly agreed.

I was then somewhat surprised to learn in May that a working group had been set up to write a document on working with GSRD clients.  The membership of it was unknown to me, but I heard on the grapevine that only one of the group had openly declared their sexuality as gay.  It seemed that cisgender, heterosexuals were to be authoring a guide to working with LGBT clients.  It thought that would be unlikely if the guide were to be on working with Black and Asian Clients. It just didn’t make sense not to be approaching my colleagues or me at Pink Therapy and drawing on our expertise in this area.

However, in July, I was formally approached by someone at BACP to take a look at this document which was by now almost ready for publication.  It was so awful, I couldn’t see how it could be re-edited, and I recommended a complete re-writing by someone who had direct experience of the literature and the field of GSRD. I suggested they approach my clinical associate, Dr Meg-John Barker, as they have previously co-authored an excellent book in this area and were planning to revise it.  This field of GSRD therapy is changing so rapidly regarding language and concepts that their original text from 2013 is already in need of revision.

I was so pleased that BACP took my advice and that Meg-John could make time for the re-write.  This occurred just as they were about to have a writing retreat and so the BACP guide got bumped to the top of their list, and they produced what I think is an incredibly rich document.  Meg-John excels at taking a complex and highly nuanced material and making it accessible for people with little to no prior knowledge.

To its absolute credit, BACP accepted the text in its entirety (albeit with some concerns about whether there might be alternative terms which could avoid the use of the ‘f-word’ for fuckbuddy and genderfuck.  So rather than obscuring the offending word with an asterisk, they use the asterisk to state: *this term is the groups preferred identity desciptor [sic]. They also agreed to Meg-John retaining copyright and to make the document available widely and not just restricting it to members only.

So please give it up for BACP and a big round of applause for Dr Meg-John Barker for writing this fantastic document.
Please feel free to share it widely!  I know I will be!

http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/16237_gender-sexual-relationship-diversity-001.pdf

BACP Gender Sexual and Relationship Diversity 001_AW (2)

Trans Hate on Sunday

I know many people’s leisurely Sunday was disturbed yesterday by another malicious piece of so-called journalism in the Mail on Sunday. I wonder if the Sanchez Manning the transphobic journalist who wrote for the third consecutive week about trans issues, this sensationalist article in the Mail on Sunday has ever sat with a suicidally depressed trans young person or bothered to explore the impact of transitioning on young trans people’s lives? Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids do masses of work in supporting young people and families in this area, and the YouTube is full of fantastic first-person accounts which offer hope and help save lives. The majority of parents of trans and gender-questioning young people are loving caring folk who are doing their absolute best to support their child.

The article referred to the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I reported on a couple of weeks ago. The MoU working group were always at great pains to ensure that therapists felt competent to have the difficult conversations about gender with their clients but to do so in a way that doesn’t privilege one decision over the other. Had the journalist and Stephanie Arai-Davies bothered to read the MoU they’d have seen that therapists need to be able to work with ambivalence and uncertainty about gender concerns without bias towards a particular outcome. Therapists support the person finding their answers to what they want to do about reconciling the conflict they feel about the gender they were assigned at birth and how they experience themselves.

The MoU stresses the importance of therapists being trained in working with concerns about gender and sexuality and seeing the quotes from Bob Withers, a member of both British Psychoanalytic Council and UKCP; it seems this part of the MoU is both relevant and necessary.  It seems like Bob Withers has a long history for expressing transphobic comments and this is particularly concerning since the clinic he co-founded in Brighton with his wife claims to work with a large number of LGBTQ clients.  Looking at his self-congratulatory posts and retweeting transphobes on his twitter timeline, I would concerned for any trans clients consulting him and wonder whether he might be in breach of the British Psychoanalytic Council and the UK Council for Psychotherapy’s Codes of Ethics for bringing the profession into disrepute?

Sanchez Manning’s interest in negatively reporting on trans issues is relatively apparent and verging on the obsessive. The week before they wrote another sensationalist piece about puberty-blockers under the headline: “We’ll give our son, 12, sex-change drugs: Parents want NHS to give their boy powerful puberty-halting treatment so he can be a girl” which probably wasn’t anything the parents said, but that didn’t seem to worry Manning, who must have missed the style guide on reporting on trans topics issued by Trans Media Watch. Oh, and publishing Alex Bertie’s photos without consent is SO not cool.

The use of anti-androgens (hormone blockers) is a standard treatment recommended by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and based on best clinical practice.  It’s only used in exceptional cases after comprehensive and careful assessment, usually taking many months, and often at a time when the rapid changes of puberty make their benefit greatly diminished. The decision to use these medications is made by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of doctors, therapists and social workers usually along with the parent’s support and the theory is that halting puberty will allow space for reflection, more significant cognitive and social development to occur. It’s not unusual to have other co-occurring mental health problems, and this is one of the reasons why an MDT is necessary. If the young person decides not to progress onto cross-sex hormones (currently at 16), they can stop the treatment at any time and puberty will continue.

Let me make this abundantly clear: An appointment with the Gender Clinic doesn’t mean someone IS going to transition, merely that they have someone who is skilled in helping them explore the issues.

The fact that someone in CAMHS refers a young person for specialist assessment could be seen as (a) how poorly trained most mainstream therapists are around these issues, (b) an entirely appropriate response to working within the limits of one’s competence or (c) a highly proper assessment and referral to specialist services. I would like to think it’s (c) because presenting with concerns about one’s gender identity is pretty standard nowadays for CAMHS staff to deal with although there is still a massive need for adequate training. The fact that a parent is unhappy with the referral needs to be worked with by the therapist, but we need to remember a 15-year-old is likely to be Gillick competent and should with all haste be referred. Research tells us that suicide attempts and self-harm rates for young trans people are running at around 50%. So we need to listen and promptly act when a young person finds the courage to come and talk to a mental health professional about their gender dysphoria.

The week before last, Sanchez Manning reported on sperm and egg preserving of trans young people before taking hormone blockers. Again, a recommendation of best practice laid down by WPATH. But Manning doesn’t seem to be that bothered about speaking to those involved in trans health care. They’re working for the Daily Mail after all which seems to revel in peddling hate and misinformation.

I wonder how a fringe group, Transgender Trend is telling a ‘story’ about youngsters being forced by the NHS into transition when quite the opposite is true. I’ve often felt the process of access to treatment (which may include hormone blockers, but more often simply involves psychological support) is incredibly slow, taking account of waiting times for a referral and then the process of assessment to determine suitability. If it’s agreed the young person should go on blockers, there is a further wait for the endocrinologist to see the young person and assess physical suitability (there is one paediatric endocrinologist working alongside the Tavistock GIDS). It has been known to take up to two years. Physical intervention isn’t a rushed process, and by the time someone starts (depending on where they were in their puberty when they entered the system), the impact of the hormone blockers could be very negligible.

What should concern parents is the bullying of gender-diverse young people.  Stonewall recently reported LGBT Bullying which is still rife in schools despite some progress being made in recent years and schools are doing better to address it.  However, 8 in 10 trans pupils are bullied, 4 out of 5 trans young people report self-harming and 1 in 10 receive death threats, there is clearly much more to do and I wonder whether Sanchez Manning and Transgender Trend think they are contributing to this problem?

The current best practice is to respect where the child or young person is at, to believe them, to help the parents support their child. Yes, some many children will change their mind about their gender after a period of social transition, but they will feel loved and respected whatever they decide to do. Childcare has moved on from the authoritarian days of the pre-1950’s where one was supposed to obey one’s parents at all costs to a more collaborative model of consent led mutual respect and where unconditional love is at the centre of ethical parent-child relationships.

Dominic Davies
CEO – Pink Therapy

 

New Partnership

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I’m pleased to share with you all, that Pink Therapy is partnering up with another online training organisation which therapists who want to specialise in working with the BDSM/Kink Communities.  Kink Knowledgable‘s co-founders Caroline Shabbaz and Peter Chirinos are hugely experienced clinicians and have built a comprehensive series of training courses to help raise the quality of mental health support available for people within the Kink communities.  They are also authors of a brilliant book on Becoming a Kink Aware Practitioner which I recently bought for my iPad Kindle App.

While we will continue to offer some essential BDSM awareness within our curricula, Kink Knowledgeable’s programme will be the place to go for those therapists who aim to specialise in this growing area.

Our partnership means Pink Therapy students will get discounts on undertaking the KK programmes.  We will also augment Kink Knowledgeable’s great faculty with some of our UK Kink Faculty and offer coaching and mentorship to some of their UK and European students.

It will also mean that some of our training courses may be eligible for American Psychological Association (APA) Continuing Education Units (CEU’s)

We plan to collaborate in various ways together, and more announcements will follow on from this one.

Here’s a short video announcement of our partnership:

Leading UK psychological professions and Stonewall unite against conversion therapy

It’s been a very long time in coming and it’s really hard to understand why we had such a battle to extend the provisions of the first Memorandum of Understanding to include people who are gender diverse and asexual.  It has caused ructions of which I’m unable to speak, but I am indebted to the Pink Therapy representatives on the working group: Pam Gawler-Wright, Meg-John Barker and Kris Black.  I also want to name check our allies in COSRT (Julie Sale) and the British Psychological Society (Igi Moon) for their endurance and commitment to ensuring this document comes to light.

It has caused ructions of which I’m unable to speak, but I am indebted to the Pink Therapy representatives on the working group: Pam Gawler-Wright, Meg-John Barker and Kris Black.  I also want to name check our allies in COSRT (Julie Sale) and the British Psychological Society (Igi Moon) for their endurance and commitment to ensuring this document comes to light.

“This document has the potential to change the way therapy is delivered in the UK for future generations, as it requires therapists to be trained to work with gender and sexual diverse clients.”  Dominic Davies – CEO Pink Therapy

The official and agreed media release is below:

An updated memorandum of understanding (MoU) against conversion therapy has been launched today, which makes it clear that conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality) is unethical, potentially harmful and is not supported by evidence. 

Conversion therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

The primary purpose of the 2017 MoU is the protection of the public through a commitment to ending the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.  The 2017 MoU updates one released in 2015 at the Department of Health, which focused exclusively on sexual orientation, and is endorsed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity Stonewall.

The MoU also intends to ensure that:

  • The public are well informed about the risks of conversion therapy
  • Healthcare professionals and psychological therapists are aware of the ethical issues relating to conversion therapy
  • New and existing psychological therapists are appropriately trained
  • Evidence into conversion therapy is kept under regular review
  • Professionals from across the health, care and psychological professions work together to achieve the above goals.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.

You can download the document here.

MoU2_FINAL_cover

Fuming about Funding

400px-Double-alaskan-rainbow

This blog is going to be a rant. It’s based on my observations over the last couple of decades as our sterling third sector organisations (they were called ‘Vol Orgs’ back then) have faced more and more hurdles to survive. The Chief Executives spend the majority of their time writing funding applications late into the night and over the weekends, chasing smaller and smaller grants. That’s less time on strategic planning of service development and even less time supporting the development of their staff and volunteers. It’s all become about chasing the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I was talking with a colleague over the weekend whose community mental health project is looking likely to be losing its funding. The project has been around for decades and is well-established and highly respected. But the process of Clinical Care Commissioning has decided in its infinite wisdom to award funding to a new project based on the medical model. Essentially the privatisation of mental health services – diverting money away from the vital third sector which has worked over the years to build solid relationships with their local community.

I’ve seen this happen time and time again – the most significant examples have been in HIV services in London where well-established organisations like PACE and GMFA lost their funding because capricious HIV Commissioners decided to try innovative (untested) new ways to reach out to at-risk communities. Thriving groupwork programmes at both charities were cut to train volunteer peer health educators to go into gay male social spaces (pubs and clubs) and try to engage them in conversations about their sexual practices and prevention strategies.

Over recent years, the NHS has gone through so many restructures that it’s hard to keep up with the changes. Funding became devolved from one source to another. Projects often need to apply for grants to their Local Councils and the Clinical Care Commissioning Groups and various charitable trusts. Each award comes with its criteria for auditing and monitoring of the relatively arbitrary and frequently unachievable targets that are set. This means that staff have to spend a great deal of time working on the quarterly reports to demonstrate how they’ve met (or otherwise) the targets. I am not arguing against auditing and monitoring of how taxpayers money is spent. Of course, this is necessary. It’s just that it can be so bureaucratic and laborious that it diverts skilled workers away from actually doing the work and creates another layer of paid bureaucrats doing the monitoring!

When the new project fails to meet the targets, funding is withdrawn. By the time this happens the previously well-established group has folded, or staff have moved on, and so our communities are left without the vital work, which had been identified and recognised, undone. Projects are often unable to speak publicly about their funders due to confidentiality clauses, and the threat of having their funding withdrawn makes them as compliant as the man whose dominatrix has a hand firmly gripping their balls.

One of the principal reasons I’ve never applied for external funding is because of the strings attached make one a puppet which dances for many masters. Chasing an ever decreasing pot of gold, competing against well-established services – and ruthlessly undercutting them. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

We need to speak out and support our third sector organisations and the innovative work they do and challenge cuts to services.

Please support the work of the LGBT Consortium http://www.lgbtconsortium.org.uk/ 

Dominic Davies
CEO – Pink Therapy
16 October 2017