centred has produced a literature review about intersectionality, drawing on publications from within the London based voluntary and community sector. The literature review will be published as part of a HEAR network research project. The HEAR network is a network of London's equalities and human rights organisations, and centred sits on its steering group. The full text of the literature review is below.
intersectionality, london based voluntary and community organisations: a literature review prepared by centred
What follows is a literature review of publications produced by the London based voluntary and community sector that speak in some way to intersectionality. This was undertaken through desk research and content analysis of publications found. Additionally members of the HEAR network Steering Group suggested publications. The publications included are contained below in an annotated bibliography. This is in no way comprehensive, but aims to offer a selection from different times and different perspectives across equality and diversity. The literature review is limited to publications, and so is therefore biased towards thinking in organisations that may have some resources and a policy or research remit, and some commitment to considering multiple equality issues. Therefore there are gaps and it is not at all representative of all of the thinking around intersectionality that exists, some of which will be further illuminated in the case studies that will be published soon. The aim of the literature review is to situate HEAR’s ‘intersections’ research within the thinking about intersectionality that has been and is happening in London’s voluntary sector. The intention of the literature review is to be a working document, so further suggestions for publications to include are welcomed and can be emailed to email@example.com.
Intersectionality undoubtedly has multiple meanings and interpretations by sections of the voluntary and community sector, legislators, policy makers, and researchers. By intersectionality we mean people’s identities and social positions being shaped by several factors at the same time, creating unique experiences and perspectives. These factors include among others sexuality, gender identity, race, deafness, disability, age, class, nationality, and faith. These identities and experiences can be changing and contradictory.
Intersectionality is a concept that can be used when thinking about complex social positions and identities. This might include when thinking about identity and lived experiences of inequality or when thinking about representation in art and media, as examples.
The concept of intersectionality holds that, for instance, one is not a lesbian and disabled, rather one is the combination of these at the same time, i.e. a disabled lesbian. These different elements form and inform each other. In this example one’s identity as a lesbian is formed by one’s identity as disabled, and vice versa; the elements of identity cannot be separated, are not lived or experienced as separate.
From this perspective it can be unhelpful to make comparisons between different ‘equality groups’, e.g. between ‘lesbians’ and ‘trans people’, or to imagine ‘hierarchies’ of equality, e.g. between race and sexuality, because when doing so the existence/experiences of trans lesbians, and Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) LGBT people, are marginalised or misrepresented. It can also be unhelpful to think in terms of ‘multiple identities’, or ‘multiple discrimination’ (though this is how it is conceptualised legally), as identities and experiences are not layered on top of one another; rather they are intersectional, formed of different elements at the same time. The inclusion of multiple identities in equalities policies does not necessarily equal an intersectional approach.
In practice intersectionality is less about bringing two different things/groups together, e.g. older people and disabled people; and more about considering the experience of older disabled people, people at the ‘intersection’ of older age and disability.
Theoretical approaches to intersectionality include: questioning and widening categories (e.g. through the use of more ambiguous labels like ‘queer’, and umbrella terms like ‘trans’); using categories strategically to understand continuing inequalities; and focusing on neglected points of ‘intersection’ in order to reveal the complexity of lived experience.
Themes emerging in the literature
Several themes emerged when looking at the literature overall.
The tension between different conceptualisations of identity and discrimination, as intersectional as opposed to ‘multiple’ or added together is evident in the literature reviewed. In 2005 the Age Reference Group prepared a paper called ‘Age and…Multiple discrimination and older people’ where identity was conceptualised as ‘layered’, with different parts on top of one another. In contrast some of the publications, for instance one by the Southall Black Sisters (2010) and Safra Project (2003) deal with the complexity of the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity and faith at the same time, without separating these elements of identity from one another.
The literature holds that compounding, co-constituting factors of identity often create additional disadvantage, i.e. experiences of discrimination, oppression and exploitation are heightened at certain points of intersection. This was particularly highlighted by the Refugee Council (2002; 2005). While language and financial problems would delay or prevent access to social services for asylum seekers and refugees, the reports emphasise a lack of coherence and conflict between different service providers, making information about entitlements and solutions for such groups even more difficult, often resulting in added stress, anxiety and absence of support.
At the same time as there is disadvantage, however, the occupation of intersectional identity can be a source of power, perspective, aspiration and creativity: ‘it seems to be true that centres of creativity tend to be at the intersection…where beliefs, lifestyles and knowledge mingle and allow individuals to see new combinations of ideas with greater ease’ (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).
Heterogeneity and discrimination within communit(ies)
Many of the publications stress the heterogeneity of ‘community’, often using instead the term ‘communities’, and resist generalisations that are assumed about particular kinds of people in policy and practice. Discrimination does of course happen within communities, a product of power imbalances, and people inhabiting positions of privilege and oppression at the same time. For instance MBARC (2009) report that some LGBT asylum seekers have experienced racism when trying to access services from single issue LGBT organisations. The Southall Black Sisters (2010) found that several of the women in their study reported vulnerability to exploitation under the current immigration rules from people within their communities. There are no safeguards for these kinds of exploitations as asylum seekers and refugee women do not have access to other essential support due to institutionalised legal discrimination. Women in their study also experienced exploitation from faith based groups. Harsh immigration and asylum policies may in certain cases encourage a culture of dependency on faith based organisations, creating further social marginalisation:
‘The pastor helped me when I was crying and said that I had nowhere to stay and he announced in church and a sister agreed. I have kept moving because they can’t keep me for long because they have families. They take advantage of me – doing the house chores and you have to do the cleaning and shopping and sometimes you are tired but you just have to go because you are at their mercy. You just can’t let them down. Sometimes, I am not in the mood for cooking but just have to do it because you are in their house.’ (2010: 45).
There is an ongoing imperative for single issue equality organisations to consider the heterogeneity of the community they serve or represent, which in practice involves thinking through all equality issues. ‘Women’ for instance are also simultaneously racialised, trans, deaf, disabled, of faith, young, old, lesbian, bi, queer, and refugees.
Services/activities meeting/not meeting the needs of people with particular intersectional identities
A consistent theme is that services and campaigning that do not account for the complexity of intersectional identity are inadequate, and can be discriminatory. This includes specialist services targeted at a particular community, which may still treat that community as homogenous. Several publications make the point that discrimination based on one part of identity cannot be effectively challenged without accounting for people’s whole identities; there is a need to view people holistically, understanding their particular needs within a wider context. A number of cross cutting issues emerge in the literature, affecting people in many equality groups. These include poverty, issues related to employment, lack of access to adequate housing, mistrust in the police, issues around mental health and isolation, and cuts to services (e.g. Southall Black Sisters 2010; Hove 2011-2012; Kaydamare 2011-2012; Inclusion London 2013).
Assessing ‘need’ with and for people with intersectional identities
Some of the articles highlight the problematic narratives that can occur when assessing the needs of people with intersectional identities. Voluntary and community organisations but importantly also other actors such as government institutions, may implicate communities in particular politicised narratives that are ostracising to people inhabiting certain identities or harmful to the accessibility of services. While recognition of communities is generally accepted as a requirement to better address the needs of people with intersectional identities, this process must also be held accountable for practices that solidify difference and generalise about communities, and as such ‘other’ particular groups of people.
One clear example of this was found by the Southall Black Sisters (2010) in assessing the impact of the cohesion and faith-based policy approach on BME women affected by domestic violence and abuse. The cohesion agenda reproduces a discourse that these women’s communities are homogenous and that the appropriate way to address ‘cohesion’ is through intervention around faith rather than other and multiple points of entry such as gender-based or racialised discrimination. Furthermore, Hove (2011-2012) and Kaydamare (2011-2012) emphasise how a lack of intersectional focus, particularly including socioeconomic factors, contribute to further deprivation in the Zimbabwean community in London. A process of ‘othering’ works to silence the Zimbabwean communities’ needs beyond HIV/AIDS and asylum difficulties (Hove 2011-2012) and the specific needs of young people living with difficult family relationships and unemployment in the face of unresolved immigration status and dispersion programmes (Kaydamare 2011-2012). The importance of active engagement with rhetoric and ‘othering’ discourses lies not only in addressing the specific needs of marginalised groups, but also in creating the space for voluntary and community organisations to differently engage with intersectional identities and needs perhaps more appropriately and widely than oftentimes the current political and economic climate allows (Larasi 2011).
The institutionalisation of equality
In the context of the institutionalisation of equality into ‘strands’ with the Equality Act 2010 and related developments, some of the articles remind us of the need to continue to think critically in this ‘sector’ of equality and diversity (e.g. Larasi 2011). Yet the economic climate provides narrow funding solutions for equality organisations, and voluntary and community organisations negotiate the risk of further marginalisation when addressing other areas of structural inequality:
‘[It] has increased the fragility of our member organisations who occupy a space that has historically been a socio-political wasteland; one that exists in the intersection between gender and marginalised ethno-cultural identities. Where practitioners attempt to address other areas of structural inequality, for example around sexuality, they have rarely been able to do so in any meaningful, systematic way as they often become anxious about adding further layers to their marginalisation.’ (Larasi 2011: 5).
The political and funding climate does not necessarily encourage intersectional working, and indeed can pose as a barrier. Identity groups considered for funding are deemed to hold ‘burdens’ that require profitable solutions. This focus creates competition between as well as within different ‘equality strands’ for funding and further hinders organisation’s abilities to address intersectional and holistic issues (Women’s Resource Centre 2009). The decline of generic and specialist infrastructure and second tier support further impedes the development of holistic services.
Intersectional visibility and monitoring identities
Monitoring of different groups and access to information, whilst sensitive, are vital to mapping needs and aspirations and providing appropriate services within an intersectional approach. For example Latin American groups in London argue that Latin Americans are made invisible in the UK immigration records of ethnic diversity. While the monitoring system itself is problematic, the exclusion of Latin Americans from the one routinely used in the UK is a barrier that prevents visible representation and substantial development of Latin American diaspora identities – both within the UK as a host country and within their respective communities (Rodriguez 2014). Monitoring in terms of sexuality, transgender identity and religion/belief remain voluntary and therefore patchy in many sectors, and groups continue to be excluded from national statistics. Monitoring for deafness and for specific disabilities is rarely undertaken.
Organising intersectionally in London
Finally, there is a huge amount of organising around intersectionality in London currently. Many of these publications are published by organisations that work explicitly on the intersection of two or more equality issues. The London LGBT Almanac, a detailed analysis of the London LGBT sector, finds that at least 40% of London LGBT organisations are intersectional organisations, which are disproportionately underresourced, but are a growing and thriving part of the London LGBT organising environment nonetheless. If such a detailed analysis of any other single equality sector were to be pursued it is likely that a similar picture would emerge. On the ground, intersectionality involves the representation and consideration of multiple identities and perspectives. Diverse representation at the level of individuals can facilitate an intersectional approach.
Intersectionality in London’s voluntary and community sector: annotated bibliography prepared by centred
Age Reference Group on Equality and Human Rights (2005), Age and … Multiple Discrimination and Older People: A Discussion Paper. Available from: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/en-GB/For-professionals/Research/Age%2...(2005)_pro.pdf?dtrk=true
● Age may trigger additional layers of discrimination: ‘Anyone who has experienced disadvantage because of their sex or race or religion or sexual orientation or disability earlier in life is thus likely to be additionally disadvantaged in old age’(12) Discrimination earlier in life increases the risk of further disadvantages in old age.
● Most services for older people are still ‘one size fits all’, i.e. few services catering for the specific needs of older LGB people and other specific groups of older people. They are usually not considered in wider policy reviews and thus specific needs of older people with multiple identities are often overlooked.
● ‘disadvantage amongst older people cannot be effectively tackled without taking account of both the discrimination (due to their gender, race, disability or sexual orientation) that people carry’ (31)
Hove (2011-2012) Beyond HIV and Asylum: a Look at the Wider needs among the Zimbabwean Community in London (From a Women’s Perspective). Available from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/116832976/Beyond-HIV-and-Asylum-a-look-at-the-...
● While most previous attention paid to the Zimbabwean communities in London focus on risk of HIV/AIDS and asylum difficulties, this reports argues that the communities’ complex needs are heavily based on more common place hardship such as poverty and financial demands, poor working conditions and family issues. The problems faced by the Zimbabwean community are varied but not disconnected and must be treated as such.
● This report highlights its focus from “a women’s perspective” in order to emphasise the need to consider that some of the major difficulties that the communities meet are disproportionally felt by Zimbabwean women. For example, long working hours and financial demands require the men in the family to chip in by doing housework. The report draws on research that shows that the influence of different gender roles and work requirements in the UK in addition to the lack of extended family support may lead to breakdown in marriages and families thus creating single parent families. Further, loneliness was indicated as a large problem, especially amongst women with long term illnesses such as HIV.
● The report recommends that the host country of (Zimbabwean) immigrants must create an enabling environment to address the issues stemming from different experiences between the home country and host country.
Inclusion London (2013), Inclusion London’s response to the Mayor’s Policing and Crime Plan Consultation. Available from: http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Inclusion%20London.pdf
● Multiple discrimination increases the risk and impact of hate crime on disabled people. Disabled women are twice to four times more likely to experience sexually based crimes including DV. While there are no current data on the impact upon disabled LGBT people it is through anecdotal reporting assumed to be common. Disability hate crime is rising but is not being met with growing support from the police.
● Key issues for disabled people concerning the Mayor’s Police and crime plan are that disability hate crime and violence are not taken seriously by the police. Disabled people have low confidence in the police’s understanding of Deaf and disability equality; perceived or actual lack of access for disabled people to report crimes; ‘stop and search’ practices that target young and particularly BME men, some of whom have learning difficulties and mental health issues put disabled people in a particularly vulnerable position and increase lack of trust in the police.
● Disabled people who wish to demonstrate against the austerity cuts need to be assured they are safe to do so.
● Police community engagement structures for deaf and disabled people lack resources and support and access needs for disabled people are inadequate for them to participate and feel their issues are taken seriously.
Kairos in Soho (2011) The London LGBT Voluntary and Community Sector Almanac, 1st Edition. Available from: http://www.centred.org.uk/sites/centred/files/documents/London%20LGBT%20...
● Kairos in Soho’s almanac reports the cover of 89 LGBT voluntary and community sector groups and organisations across London. The largest proportion of organisations work on behalf of LGBT, LGBTQ or LGBTQI people (36%), whereas 7% on behalf of young people, 2% on behalf of older people and 7% on behalf of BAME people. 6% of organisations worked on behalf of men only, aside from one organisation, none of these explicitly included trans men. 5% worked on behalf of women only, where only one out of 4 total explicitly included trans women. Only 2% of the organisations recorded were LGB or exclusive sexual orientation organisations.
● Organisations that exclusively target trans people have an average of six trans people on their governing bodies, contrary to organisations that do not explicitly target trans people (while most will still include trans people in the group they represent), which would have less than one trans person on the governing bodies on average.
● There is a relationship between volunteer base and target group. For example, organisations that specifically serve or represent BAME LGBT people have between 66% and 100% BAME core volunteers, while these represent 37% in organisations that do not specifically serve or represent BAME LGBT people.
● Membership and service user base in the sector is dominated by men. For membership, the number of men is twice as large as the number of women. Regarding service users, gay men make up more than twice the user base than do lesbians. Bisexual people make up 6%, trans people 4% and disabled people 3.2% of service users.
● 18% of organisations provided training to mainstream or non-LGBT community of identity organisations, in an effort to improve their activities with diverse LGBT communities.
Kairos in Soho (2012) The London LGBT Voluntary and Community sector Almanac, 2nd edition. Available from: http://www.centred.org.uk/sites/centred/files/almanac%202012%20for%20web...
● The second edition of the Almanac centres around the theme of heritage and diverse LBT women’s organising, as an issue that stood out following the publication of the first edition. 20 additional organisations, adding up to a total of 109, have been included, primarily ones that are working with social and arts and culture aims, and three that are exclusively bisexual-led organisation (compared to no such London-based organisations included in the last edition). In addition 40% of the sample is intersectional LGBT organisations that work around a specific equalities area such as race or disability.
● Unique aspects of motivation for LGBT volunteers and activists include the focus on creating, occupying and sharing spaces where one explores mutual identity. People take up different volunteering/organising positions depending on their identity or where they are in the construction of their own identity. Finding community and collectivism, feeling a sense of shared responsibility as well as visibility were other key motivations for volunteers and activists.
● The heritage focus in this edition responds to the limited representation of LGBT people, particularly as we face spending cuts and professionalisation of the VCS, and urges the problematisation of an LGBT ‘community’ and the specification of visibility. It features an array of heritage pieces, among other things stories told by BME and disability activists and recording of local arts and culture projects.
Kaydamadare, B. H. (2011-2012) The Difficulties and Experiences of Young People in the Zimbabwean Community of South East London. Available from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/116832737/The-difficulties-and-experiences-of-...
● This research project highlights five important challenges in young people living in the Zimbabwean community in South East London; unresolved immigration status, family relationships, The Dispersion Programme, Employment and Stress.
● For most of the young people involved in the study, unresolved immigration status was their largest issue (71%). The time that the Home Office takes to process asylum applications further contributes to issues of settling down in the community, access to public services, employment and education.
● Many of the young people reported great stress in their daily lives, sometimes contributing to mental illness.
● The lack of funding for and access to non-governmental organisations to assist young people in the Zimbabwean community, in addition to the further limiting of services by other refugee and asylum seeker or welfare organisations contribute to a risk of destitution.
Larasi, Marai (2011) Policy: Silence is not an option. Available from: http://www.rota.org.uk/webfm_send/7
● Written by the director of Black feminist organisation Imkaan, this article outlines the organisation’s approach of critical thinking toward policy development as a second tier organisation working for the development of the Black, ethnic minority and refugee (BMER) led violence against women and girls sector.
● With the political and economic climate, cuts in services and the government’s position on multiculturalism, Imkaan’s member organisations are facing further fragility. While the intersectional space they inhabit is already devoid of proper political attention, practitioners who struggle to address other areas of structural inequality and identities are anxious about doing so as it may further increase their marginalisation.
● In engaging in policy making and research, Imkaan highlights the importance of critical thinking in the process of offering a voice where there is none. As an example, the article highlights Imkaan’s effort to engage with the use of language in the GLA report looking at ‘harmful practices’. Imkaan’s engagement with its ’othering’ of BMER women through such language makes visible the need for an intersectional approach that is careful to avoid exoticisation but at the same time highlights the need for a specialist response.
MBARC (2009) Over Not Out: The Housing and Homelessness Issues Specific to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Asylum Seekers. Available from: https://www.metropolitan.org.uk/images/Over-Not-Out.pdf
● While many asylum seekers now have available various support facilities through the voluntary and community sector, LGBT asylum seekers may often feel excluded from these services and experience or fear the experience of discrimination from their own ethnic or national communities, and faith based organisations may also perpetuate negative attitudes and prejudices. It is sometimes assumed that LGBT issues are marginal within Refugee Community Organisations given the lack of data of LGBT service users.
● The report indicates that LGBT asylum seekers often initially seek support from larger generic LGBT organisations, and their experience has not always been positive, particularly with those engaging with the more commercial LGBT groups, due to service users’ lack of finances and sometimes racist attitudes from the LGBT organisations.
● However, in London, multi-issue focused organisations combining both LGBT and asylum or ethnic identity issues have provided support. Although these organisations are hard to find and often lack resources and funding. Thus, LGBT asylum seekers are shown to have an increased vulnerability and depend on casual or circumstantial support. Young men are perhaps particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation from casual friends, some turning to sex work for survival.
Patel, Pragna and Sen, Uditi (2010) Cohesion, Faith and Gender: A report on the impact of the cohesion and faith-based approach on black and minority women in Ealing. Available from: http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/sbs/cfg-report-copyright-sbs.pdf
● This report highlights the impact of the cohesion and faith-based policy approach on black and ethnic minority women who have survived domestic violence and abuse (in Ealing), assessing the disconnect between this agenda and the reality of the interview participants in the study.
● The state’s adherence to cohesion policies born out of an agenda to prevent ‘violent extremism’ and its subsequent focus on relying on religious leadership as spokespersons for minority communities alienates ethnic minority women. The study demonstrates that relying on non-elected leaders to represent any given group is undemocratic, especially when there is a deep distrust amongst ethnic minority women of religious authorities. In addition, the focus on community as single entities is problematic as communities are always divided among various levels of power. The privileging of such religious authorities replicates and accentuates the inequalities felt by women within their respective populations.
● While the cohesion approach assumes people of BME backgrounds ‘belong’ to their respective ‘communities’, this had little resonance with the respondents. The idea of community and belonging are spaces of continuous negotiation through common practices and spaces irrespective of ethnic backgrounds. BME women inhabit a mixed world in terms of religion and ethnicity, where they feel more secure than in faith-based enclaves.
● Racism has a major impact on the sense of belonging for ethnic minorities in the UK. The division that racism creates within neighbourhoods and communities is at best left unchallenged, at worst reinforced through othering by the cohesion and integration agenda.
● The cohesion and faith-based agenda undermines the existing secular spaces enabled through the voluntary, statutory and legal sectors, from which ethnic minority women can negotiate their differences and develop values based on shared common humanity predicated on justice, gender and racial equality.
Refugee Council (2009) The Vulnerable Women’s Project Good Practice Guide: Assisting Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women affected by Rape or Sexual Violence. Available from: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0001/7083/RC_Vulnerable_Women_GP...
● This report aims to provide a guide for people who are involved in working with refugee and asylum seeking women affected by sexual violence, showing how the refugee Council approach place the client in the context of her social circumstances and experiences at the assessment stage and how they work with both the client’s internal and external world.
● The first part highlights the importance of sensitivity within the assessment part of working with refugee and asylum seeking women who have experienced rape or sexual violence. It urges the awareness of the perceptions of rape and sexual violence in the woman’s own culture, what kind of support network she has where she is living now, how pregnancy after rape can be triggering in a multitude of ways and her level of daily activity. It was also emphasised that the woman’s asylum seeker psychological state and the stage of their asylum process often have strong links (e.g. increased anxiety in the event of appeal hearings). Her asylum seeker status must also be recognised to have a strong impact on her financial and accommodation support entitlements.
● The second part addresses guidelines for the therapeutic casework that the report recommends, a mix of counselling skills, practical advice and advocacy for the particular client group. Recognising the need for flexibility due to the nature of the client’s status yet providing structure and safety is recommended. The report addresses advocacy on the client’s behalf to various social services and voluntary agencies, or where possible empowering clients to gain their entitlements on their own. Further advocated is advice to provide practical advice and orientation concerning the client, assisting in and addressing cultural readjustment with the client, crisis intervention which is quite common given the client’s status (e.g. refusal of asylum or racial assault in the UK), assisting in normalising and mourning of losses (whether it be feelings of cultural loss and loss of home and status in society or loss of actual people).
● Further guidance highlights gender sensitivity in staffing and interpreting.
Refugee Council (2005) A study by the Refugee Council documents the findings of a survey of asylum seekers with special needs. Available from: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/8820/Asylumseekersspecialne...
● The majority of the respondents in this study reported that they had lived in emergency accommodations for longer than three months. Emergency accommodation is often found in a poor state because the perception is that asylum seekers are not supposed to stay there for more than a short period of time. Issues range from poor hygiene conditions to overcrowding. This provides particular issues for women and mothers, who are experiencing a lack of privacy (because they often have to share room with their children) and people with acute medical or emotional conditions.
● Access to services for asylum seekers with special needs is left up to the individual asylum seeker and therefore it may be difficult for individuals to identify their own needs, what services are available and how to access these. Once asylum seekers are able to access services, the report states that anxiety may develop toward having to start all over again if they end up being dispersed, and so many put up with poor living conditions.
● No uniformity of services between boroughs reinforces the fear of dispersal, and actions of many social workers reflect this in their unawareness of many of their responsibilities towards asylum seekers.
Refugee Council (2002) Support (and lack of) available to refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities. Available from: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/8821/disability_jrf.pdf
● This report states that few asylum seekers or refugees with disabilities are aware of social services available to them, how to negotiate social services and benefit systems have led individuals to miss out on benefits and other entitlement sometimes for decades. One common reason was communication and language difficulties, not only due to financial reasons but also due to lack of impairment-related access.
● The combination of disabling barriers and lack of social networks sometimes led to extreme isolation.
● Many service providers were found to be unaware or unfamiliar with the full range of entitlements of disabled people within refugee and asylum-seeking communities. Conflict between reception assistant organisations and local authority social services departments, particularly regarding financial responsibility, resulted in strained relations between agencies. In the worst cases, disabled asylum seekers or refugees would be left unsupported for long periods of time.
Rodriguez, P. R. (2014) Monitoring Ethnic Diversity: Does it Pave the Way Towards a Better Implementation of a Public Policy for the Inclusion/Assimilation of Refugee/Migrant Communities in the UK? A Case Study of the Latin American Communities in the London Borough of Southwark. Available from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/206412608/Monitoring-Ethnic-Diversity-Does-it-...
● This report argues that the multi diverse nature of Latin Americans make them invisible in the UK immigration records of ethnic diversity and recommends that in the differentionalist system that is the norm in the UK a ‘Latin American box’ would give a chance, especially to second generation immigrants, to make visible representation and help develop their own identity, both within the host country and their own communities.
● The methods used by ONS makes it difficult to record the presence of Latin Americans in the UK as it studies migration flows based on ethnicity rather than using other methods of recording, such as those that include native language and dialectal forms.
● It argues that a number of different factors need to be pointed out in order to account for the diversity within Latin Americans in the UK in order to understand how their Diaspora identity is formed differently. Especially with reference to country of origin and social extract, which the report argues, are crucial in determining work stratification and socialisation within the community, as well as immigration status and risk of exploitation.
● Interviews with representatives from various Latin American Diaspora organisations documented that the recognition issue was of high priority for Latin American Recognition campaign (LARC) and Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK (CLAUK) very much integrated with the advocacy and work for access to employment rights and health rights. While they acknowledged that proper ethnicity monitoring cannot be seen as a goal in itself, and is inherently problematic in particular in relation to the multi-ethnic region, they argued that it would be a significant step toward providing space for Latin American identity in London.
Safra Project (2003) Identifying the difficulties experienced by Muslim lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in accessing social and legal services: Initial Findings. Available from: http://www.safraproject.org/Reports/Safra_Project-Initial_findings-2002.pdf
● The report aims to increase awareness of issues and highlight the needs of Muslim LBT women for better access to appropriate social and legal services.
● The main aims of this report are:
● To identify and raise awareness of the issues Muslim LBT women face resulting from their sexual orientation and/or gender identity within the context of their ethnic, cultural and/or religious background.
● To identify some of the difficulties Muslim LBT women experience in accessing appropriate social and legal services.
● To highlight needs and make recommendations for more accessible and appropriate social and legal services. A summary of recommendations can be found at the end of this report.
● The report presents initial findings from two workshops and a subsequent conference, with 15 organisations and 30 Muslim LBT women taking part or contributing. There was additional input from members of the Safra projects own personal experiences, and from Muslim LBT women who made contact via phone and email.
● The report covers the following themes:
● Identity and mental health
● Coming out
● Marriage and children
● Domestic violence
● Recommendations are made relating to ‘Policies and Practice’, ‘Information and Access’, as well as recommendations for further research.
Women’s Resource Centre (2010) In All Our Colours: Lesbian, bisexual and trans women’s services in the UK. Available from: http://thewomensresourcecentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/IAOC.pdf
● This report highlights the key issues affecting different groups of lesbian, bisexual and trans women, tracking the literature that describes the (lack of) services and support for, and information about these women in the UK, and the extent to which existing services are underfunded.
● Most LGBT organisations rely on volunteers to some extent, many are entirely volunteer run, or are expecting to be as a result of the public funding cuts. This is particularly true for LBT organisations, and even more so for BAME (LBT) groups.
● The report identifies several barriers to further LGBT support, relating particularly to access to funding and the need for infrastructure support, again relating particularly to LBT organisations. Many LGBT organisations work across large areas (both geographically and in terms of issues) in order to provide service for a broad range of users but also to acquire enough funding, as a result of the lack of recognition about the size and real diversity of the LGBT population and subsequent variety of service needs. The report alerts concerns that there is little infrastructure and second tier support for LGBT organisations, and that they as a result become “add-ons” to existing mainstream support, which again may be detrimental to vulnerable groups within the LGBT population.
● Many groups specifically supporting LBT women have closed down in recent years due to funding issues. This includes LBT disability organisations and LBT DV initiatives but more seriously BAME projects (2 out of 11 found were no longer running their services) as they are found to be particularly underfunded. Special interest groups within the LGBT community are as a consequence often being subsumed into generic (LGBT) services, resulting in the risk of losing out on a unique understanding of these organisations and their service users, including marginalisation and lack of access to women-only services as an example.
● While there is a general issue both ways in LGBT representation and influence on government decision-making that involves the communities, tokenism (one group speaks for all) and lack of L and B women getting involved in governing bodies and issues of public decision-making are of particular concern.
● Lesbian organisations have virtually disappeared as part of a gradual fall in funding for the women’s sector and little is known about LBT social, economic, sexual and health experiences so their needs cannot be met. LBT women receive double discrimination when they face invisibility both in society at large as well as within LGBT organisations. LBT women with multiple identities can experience even further intersectional discrimination and subsequent marginalisation within both spheres.
● LBT women’s organisations are particularly marginalised in terms of funding and political influence, as the definitions of need must be recognisable to the funders which consequently excludes many specialist services that only serve LBT women. Only 1% of all women’s organisations surveyed between 2004-2007 were LBT specific organisations. The LGBT community is often 'problematised' for example that it is often framed within and HIV/AIDS perspective, and thus LBT women are often excluded from funding frames that give privilege to gay men. Again, this is reproduced by lack of data and evidence about the LBT community, especially required for funding recognition.
● Women-only spaces and groups have proved particularly valuable for women who are in minority and marginalised groups so that they can run their own specialised services. The report argues for cohesion and integration developed by both ‘mixed’ (in terms of servicing women from diverse backgrounds) and separate spaces for women of specific minority groups.
Women’s Resource Centre (2009) Women Thinking Equality: the Summing Up. Available from: http://www.engender.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/WTE-The-Summing-Up...
● The need for control in society, in particular in relation to supporting a market economy, sustains the proliferation of discrimination of ‘isms’ that can be exploited for profit (e.g. women and BME people). People who are seen as systematically non-exploitable are termed useless (e.g. old or disabled people)
● The education system sustains the huge disparities in society that feeds systemic exploitation and reproduction of the elites.
● Human care and human wellbeing do not have a value or do not count within the market and are thus seen as non-contributory to our economic system; in particular when the market system is based on an assumed male career model.
● The education system, media, peers, family and in general the understanding of history supports the idea that success can be measured through earnings and success in the market place, even more so for the groups that are discriminated against than those who benefit from the system. The strong focus on individuality leads to strong stereotypes that reproduce such discrimination on a wider basis, because it supports the ideas that tell us it is more important to be successful as an individual than as a group to challenge systemic discrimination.
● The report calls for equalities work to start addressing these problems of systemic discrimination of ‘isms’ in the name of a profitable market economy, to drive arguments forward that support a shift in focus to a new system of value, where the measuring of aspects of life should be valued through self esteem, equality, happiness and freedom and unpaid contributions and participation within communities that would allow for the recognition of multiple selves and thus all the contributions we make in our lives would be recognised, not only the ones that contribute to tax revenues and paid work.
● The report argues that such a shift would be possible if we detached the idea of education as formal schooling and attainment of academic qualifications. Electoral politics creates a fear of difference, and hinders real coalition. The state’s approach to identity politics, and sought after solutions and the description of subsequent discriminations are bound up with ideas of burden and the idea of otherness identified with these particular groups. The focus on identity groups also creates competition between various equality strands to receive money and funding to tackle their specific discrimination. Focusing on equal human value is the only way to secure equality, through education of our self-worth within and together with our communities.
● While this report provides initially many interesting points to the direction of equalities work it arguably simplifies its case. The report could benefit from including more on neoliberal co-optation of identity politics rather than its complete devaluation of it. Privileged individuals within discriminated identity groups do benefit from the fact that neoliberalism oftentimes both acknowledges and hinders equality values of ‘isms’ and this presents problems that must be connected to how equalities organisations work. For example, there is not just competition between the various strands of equalities as is argued in the reports, but how these (in)equalities are defined within their own discourses, who they represent and how they justify certain representation.