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Annual Report 2002-2003
Community development is a concept which is at the core of Gay Men's Health’s working ethos. Put simply, we believe that gay and bisexual men have the best knowledge of the problems that affect us, and that we are the best placed people to tackle them. As gay and bisexual men, we can empower ourselves to make our own world a fairer and healthier place for us to live.
Successful community development relies upon active citizenship. Gay and bisexual men are represented at every level of our work – from our office support volunteers right through to our board of directors. By ensuring that gay and bisexual men are consulted and fully involved in the organisation’s planning and delivery, we aim to ensure that its services best reflect the needs and wishes of local gay and bisexual men.
This process of involving gay men underpins every piece of work the organisation undertakes. In so doing, we aim to build the capacity of individuals and by cascade effect, the community as a whole. The bizarre irony behind Gay Men's Health is that our ultimate aim is to render the organisation redundant. One day, we hope for a level playing field, where our organisation is no longer needed.
The day we decide to shut up shop is still sadly a long way off. We know that gay and bisexual men face a litany of serious specific inequalities - both health related, and in the wider social context of our day to day lives. Few would argue that homophobia is still rife in Scotland, and gay and bisexual men continue to be around ten times as likely to contract HIV as their heterosexual counterparts. These are but two items from an unacceptably long list.
Gay Men's Health would not be able to tackle any of this without the support of its many volunteers. They come from all ages and walks of life. Most are gay men, but many are not. Each and every one makes a difference.
There is a wide range of tasks that volunteers are required to fill, and we match these to the individual volunteer’s interests and abilities. Volunteers receive a high level of training, and are fully supported by staff and other trained volunteers to ensure that their work is of the highest standards and that they are able to cope with the often difficult demands made of them. In balancing the challenge of these situations with appropriate levels of training and support, volunteers are able to make a real difference and still find their work rewarding and fun.
Of particular note this year, we have launched an internet peer education outreach project, which now runs comfortably alongside our existing peer education work on the commercial gay scene. This new piece of work sprang from a joint evaluation project with NHS Lothian, LGBT Youth Scotland and the ROAM Team. We have noted a huge demand for this service, whereby gay and bisexual men using internet chatrooms can access information and support from trained volunteers online.
This year also saw the fruition of a National Lottery funding bid, which resulted in the new LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing, based in Edinburgh, opening earlier this year. Gay Men's Health has played a key part in this proposal, and the Community Development Manager has been heavily involved in putting this funding proposal together during the last three years, along with representatives from several other organisations. Gay Men’s Health and the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing are building an excellent working relationship with one another whilst successfully avoiding any duplication in service.
Annual Review 2002-2003
Last updated 14th July 2004
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