This is for service providers in Vancouver. We are facilitating sensitivity training through Vancouver Coastal Health...please read!!!!

The SHARP Access Project is offering free LGBT2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Two Spirit) core competency training for staff and clients in residential mental health and addiction settings. Bookings are available starting mid-May 2009.

The SHARP (Shelter, Housing And Residential Program) Access Project is a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Healthís Prism Alcohol and Drug Services and the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, and is funded through Service Canada. The SHARP Access Project Team is comprised of 3 project staff and 8 peer facilitators that have had direct experience with residential mental health and addiction services. All members of the SHARP Access Project are part of the LGBT2S communities.
This project will be developing and delivering training for staff working in residential mental health and addiction settings, as well as for tenants / residents / clients. Its aim is to improve access for LGBT2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Two Spirit) people to shelters, housing programs, and mental health and addiction services that have a residential component.
SHARP will deliver two 3.5-hour workshops specifically for service providers:
An introduction to working with trans people in residential settings.
An introduction to working with lesbian, gay and bisexual people in residential settings.

These workshops will address core competency issues in working with LGBT populations, such as barriers to accessing services, LGBT-specific issues to consider, and recommendations for improving service provision and developing LGBT-specific policies at agencies. We are alsoworking towards developing a workshop on Two Spirit (Aboriginal LGBT) issues, however it is not yet available to be booked.
In addition, we will be offering a 90-minute workshop for clients/residents/tenants.
Creating environments of respect: a workshop for tenants, residents and clients.
This workshop will focus on building empathy and understanding across differences. It will provide participants with skills and strategies in how to treat LGBT2S people and other individuals with mutual respect and consideration.

Why the need for the SHARP Access Project?

Everyone should be provided with equitable access to shelter, food, and safety when they are in need. Research shows that for LGBT2S people, this is not always the case; in fact it is often the exception.
Most service providers have not had the opportunity to learn about issues in working with LGBT2S clients. Yet these populations are at heightened risk for mental health, physical health and/or substance use problems and face additional barriers to accessing services.

LGBT2S people commonly experience marginalization, discrimination, trauma, family rejection and loss of employment and housing due to their identity.
Research from Manitoba shows that 35% of all homeless or street involved youth identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. American studies show numbers as high at 50% in larger urban centres.
A recent Wellesley Institute study found that Transgendered Men (FtMís) are often unsafe in menís shelters and unwelcome in womenís. An overwhelming 61% of these participants reported lack of safety as the reason for not accessing homeless shelters.

Some Common LGBT2S Experiences in Shelters, Housing and Residential Programs

Negative experiences with intake procedures, policies and staff are common in residential service programs, such as denial of service, early withdrawal or expulsion from services.
Instructions from staff to minimize discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation, not wanting to make other clients feel uncomfortable (i.e. to remain closeted).

Experiences of verbal or physical abuse and discriminatory assumptions by clients or staff, with little or no outcomes for homophobic or transphobic behaviour.
Restrictions around an individuals gendered appearance, special requirements to shower and sleep in gender-specific areas where the individual may not feel safe or comfortable.

These types of experiences also often result in avoidance, mistrust and reluctance to try to access services in the future.

The SHARP Access Project hopes to address these issues in an open and informational format to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to improve services to LGBT2S individuals. These workshops will help to build comfort, confidence and competencies as part of improving client outcomes.

To book a workshop for your agency please contact me and I will give you our coordinator's number or you can give me yours and she can call you.