Rainbow Alliance: LGBT+ Network. – Leeds & York – HC – #MHAwards18

The alliance is a movement which has, at present approximately 95 followers of varying roles (non-clinical/clinical) at various levels of the trust hierarchy. LTPFT chief executive Sara Munro has joined and visibly supports the work. The alliance also has members of the public who identify as LGBT+ and have lived experience of mental health difficulties. But overall, it welcomes all people from the LGBT+ community whether they have accessed our services or otherwise.

Highly Commended - #MHAwards18 - Addressing MH Inequalities


  • From start: Yes
  • During process: Yes
  • In evaluation: No


  • Peer: No
  • Academic: No
  • PP Collaborative: Yes

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Please briefly describe your project, group, team or service, outlining  what you do and why it makes a difference 

The alliance is a movement which has, at present approximately 95 followers of varying roles (non-clinical/clinical) at various levels of the trust hierarchy. LTPFT chief executive Sara Munro has joined and visibly supports the work. The alliance also has members of the public who identify as LGBT+ and have lived experience of mental health difficulties. But overall, it welcomes all people from the LGBT+ community whether they have accessed our services or otherwise.

Rainbow Alliance leads attend citywide multiagency LGBT+ meetings and has now forged a positive working relationship with Leeds City Council, contributing to the wider agenda of an LGBT+ Inclusive Leeds. A positive and collaborative working relationship is also ever growing with Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and the Rainbow Alliance is very much focussed on fostering this as well as developing similar relationships with other Leeds NHS Trusts during 2018. 

The Rainbow Alliance has also been working with the National Collaboration Centre for Mental Health in promoting positive practice around LGBT+ inclusivity.  

The Rainbow Alliance has been instrumental in beginning to enhance visibility of LGBT+ inclusivity in service areas. This includes providing staff with rainbow lanyards wear and providing materials to create bold displays in service areas which not only provides information on local support available but fundamentally shows “we care and value” this community of people. Verbal feedback from service users has demonstrated that this has created a ‘safe’ environment where they feel they be more open in who they are in terms of their sexuality. The alliance targets and provides information to staff on a continual basis on the health risks which are prevalent in the LGBT+ community and the societal issues which LGBT+ people face. This is to help promote staff in voluntarily attending the training provided by the alliance to better enhance their skills and knowledge and thereby enhancing the quality of the engagement staff have with this community.


What makes your service stand out from others? Please provide an example of this.

Frontline staff have led with integrity in starting the Rainbow Alliance which developed from a local service improvement project in a south Leeds CMHT. Calling on their colleagues to do the same they had the overall aim to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect no matter how they may identify in terms of their sexuality or gender identity. As a provider of mental health & learning disability services, LYPFT needs to consistently acknowledge and address the inequalities which LGBT+ people face in society today in order to better meet the healthcare needs of this population. The Rainbow Alliance is a movement which is working to achieve this.  It has gained the support of Trust staff and senior management and regularly connects with staff and the LGBT+ community further afield on social media. The alliance has been represented at Leeds Pride and the LYPFT Annual Members’ Meeting in 2017 and now holds quarterly city central meetings which are open for anyone to attend and contribute to the ongoing work of the alliance. It works closely with the voluntary sector, among other partner organisations. There are existing LGBT+ networks in the NHS which focus on workforce equality – but to our knowledge the Rainbow alliance is the only network whose primary aim is to improve the quality of services the Trust delivers to the public



How do you ensure an effective, safe, compassionate and sustainable workforce?

Success and sustainability depends upon the utilisation of the skills and active engagement of like-minded allies across the organisation who have a shared passion to address the health inequalities of the LGBT+ community. Following an engagement event held in early February with Rainbow Alliance members and LGBT+ allies, we now have a member led action plan. This has promoted the dissemination of responsibility for developing LGBT+ inclusivity in a broader range of service areas in both Leeds and York. It has empowered members to step forward and become more meaningfully engaged. We now have work ongoing that involves promoting the values of the Rainbow Alliance from the point of staff recruitment and induction in addition to the existing workforce. We have a staff training plan being delivered throughout 2018 which is LGB and trans led and Rainbow Alliance leads are currently working on how to measure the impact of this on the services we deliver. Members will also be representing the Rainbow Alliance at Pride events this year in both Leeds and York to promote the movement and invite more members from the LGB and Transgender and non-binary communities to join the alliance.  Those who lead on the Rainbow Alliance are now beginning to share work on a national level and participated in a webinar coordinated by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. NHS Leadership Academy have also expressed an interest in the Rainbow Alliance as an example of healthcare leadership in tackling health inequalities. This was presented in the form of an online blog and video interview and will hopefully inspire other members of the NHS to lead on similar work in their own job roles.


Who is in your team?

We have 95 members of including members of the public, service users, staff and volunteers


How do you work with the wider system?

We ensure our training is delivered from people who identify as being part of the LGB and trans community.

We liaise with other NHS Trusts in Leeds, particularly LTHT and we have had some recent interest from South West Yorkshire Trust who have heard about our work.

We have a good working relationship with the local authority and a Rainbow Alliance lead regularly attends a city wide meeting on LGBT+ inclusion chaired by the diversity and inclusion manager from Leeds City Council.

We attend open forums held by third sector organisations to ensure we are trying to hear the voices of as many people from the community as possible

In April we ran a health promotion event with Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust around Trans health and wellbeing and plan to run another later in the year. This addressed both physical and mental health needs.


Do you use co-production approaches? If so, please illustrate how you involve individuals, families and carers to drive improvement and deliver services? 

We are currently co producing how we introduce sexual orientation monitoring. We have released a survey and are responding individually to the themes raised. We are involving the LGBT+ community and LGBT+ charities in developing guidance on how this should be implemented in the Trust later this year. Currently working with our OD department on how we can start to evaluate this. 

We also co produced our Terms of Reference and following feedback from the LGBT+ community – amended our membership terms to be more inclusive of the wider public. 

We also have an open invite to our quarterly meet ups which are held in the city centre and on non-NHS property.


Do you share your work with others? If so, please tell us how.

We have an email distribution list of members. A web page on the Trusts website which we keep updated with blogs and events. We are very active on Twitter and have a following of almost 1000 accounts now. We are members of citywide networks relating to LGBT+ inclusivity and attend events alongside other LGBT networks to share learning and work.

We have visual displays around the Trust. We report into our organisation Equality and Inclusion group and our work forms part of the Trusts action plan in terms of equality actions.

The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health follows our journey and have invited us to attend their base in London later in the summer to share our learning.


What outcome measures are collected, how do you use them and how do they demonstrate improvement?

As of 1st October, we will be starting to collect data around sexual orientation which will enable us to better measure the quality of services and the impact of our work. It will also give us a better understanding on what future goals may consist of and a better understanding of any access issues across services. We will also be able to establish which service areas are asking about sexual orientation well & which services are possibly not engaging with this as well as they should be. 

We gather narratives directly from staff who attend the LGB and trans training to ascertain how it will impact on their ways of working and subsequently the support they deliver to people.


Has your service been evaluated (by peer or academic review)? 

No but we have been visited by researchers from the National Collaboration Centre for mental Health on 22nd June and the Positive Practice Collaborative are aware of our work


How will you ensure that your service continues to deliver good mental health care?

With the introduction of sexual orientation monitoring on the horizon we will soon be in a position to really shine the spotlight on the services we deliver to LGB people and how we can improve these. We also want to then start to have discussions around being more inclusive of the spectrum of gender and how we can start to gather information on gender which is inclusive of the spectrum of gender and not just the binary. We feel this is the future and will be a huge shift towards health equality or trans and non binary people. 

We need to continue to have visible support from senior managers and keep demonstrating that we are listening to, and every developing based on the feedback we get from members and the public. We need to have an awareness and understand of what is happening nationally within NHS England around LGBT+ health inequalities. We also are looking to create a formal volunteering role through the Trust to support the alliance but also create an opportunity for someone to gain employment skills and experience for their own vocational development


What aspects of your service would you share with people who want to learn from you? 

Its rewarding, yet hard work to set up a network like ours alongside busy full time jobs. But its also hugely rewarding and can be done. We are mindful of our ‘image’ and focus on being as personable as possible with all who we come into contact with. We live by our values and day to day communicate the message that we need health equality for our LGBT+ communities.

You need support from senior management, but for us, its important that the leadership is provided by people who are having service level contact with the community itself. Also that participation in our network is evidenced as part of their appraisal so they can ensure their role in the alliance is supported and protected by their line management.

Support from our communications team has been vital in promoting the alliance and building up its membership. We have some financial commitment from the trust which enables us to fund training from people external to the Trust. 

Most importantly, you need to get out their amongst the communities – be visible, be neutral, be engaging. People need to learn to trust you – co production is vital. We cant write policies, identify goals etc in isolation of the community we are referring to – THEY MUST BE INCLUDED AND THEIR VOICES BE HEARD



What is your service doing to address and advance equality?

Introducing Sexual Orientation Monitoring in the trust as of 1st October 2018

Providing staff awareness training on LGB and trans health

Creating LGBT+ friendly looking public areas in services.


Further information 

Terms of Reference –  What does the Rainbow Alliance do? Creates a social movement in which Trust staff, service users and carers collaborate with the shared goal of enhancing the quality of care which we deliver across the organisation to the LGBT+ community

Provides an opportunity for members to lead on delivering LGBT+ service improvement projects in their areas  Accepts accountability to the Trust’s Equality and Inclusion Group  How does it do it? By establishing effective working partnerships across Leeds with other NHS Trusts,the local authority and third sector support services

By ensuring the Rainbow Alliance has a visible presence around the Trust

Through Rainbow Alliance members attending quarterly meetings to share goodpractice and progress Promoting, supporting and representing the Trust during key events involving theLGBT+ community  How are contributions acknowledged? Contributions from all Rainbow Alliance members are equally valued and encouraged when collaboratively considering the ongoing work of the alliance

Rainbow Alliance members will be provided with regular updates via social media, quarterly meetings, emails from alliance leads and Trustwide communications The impact of the Rainbow Alliance will be measured and shared across the organisation and reported to the Equality and Inclusion Group Membership Membership is open to all Trust staff, the LGBT+ communities of Yorkshire, anyone who accessed Trust services and their carers  Meetings Formal Rainbow Alliance meetings will be held quarterly. The dates, times and venues of these meetings will be advertised on the Trust’s website, www.leedsandyorkpft.nhs.uk


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