SIAA’s members CAPS Independent Advocacy  provide collective and individual advocacy in East Lothian and Midlothian. Born at the end of 2020, their LGBTQI+ Collective Advocacy group explores mental health and LGBTQI+ issues within Collective Advocacy allowing individuals to see that they are not alone and that they can use negative experiences to make positive changes.

Collective Advocacy is important as it provides strength in numbers, allowing individuals to have a stronger collective voice.

The LGBTQI+ Collective Advocacy group started after CAPS secured funding from Thrive Edinburgh to create a Collective Advocacy group for people from the LGBTQI+ community, who have lived experience of mental health issues. CAPS had previously identified that there was a real need for the group, as they had been hearing it from the people they work with.

The group brings people together, from the LGBTQI+ community who have lived experience of mental health issues, to discuss the issues that affect them and talk about how they can use these experiences to raise awareness, campaign for change and make a difference to the mental health sector in Edinburgh for the LGBTQI+ community. The group meets every 2-3 weeks, usually on Wednesday evenings, and is facilitated by Collective Advocacy Worker, Mohasin Ahmed. However, the meeting agendas, topics addressed, and activities completed are decided as a group from identified common interests and priorities. This collective advocacy group is open to anyone, over the age of 18, that lives in Edinburgh and identifies as being a part of the LGBTQI+ community and has their own personal lived experience of a mental health issue.

The group has already completed an exciting piece of work, in partnership with LGBT Health and Wellbeing, involving refreshing their LGBT+ Mental Health Audit tool. The Audit tool provides mental health service providers with a resource which they can use to assess how inclusive their practice is for the LGBTQI+ community and provides useful tips and guidance on how to be more inclusive.

Their members really appreciate the support the group provides:

“It’s so wonderful to discover shared experiences and shared views with other people. It gives you a sense of not being alone with your issues.”

“I have learned a lot about other people’s experiences, I now see that there are many differences and similarities between my experience and others – this reassures you (not the only one) and also opens up your mind to how different it can be for others.”

You can read more testimonials on their Collective Advocacy 2020-2021 Evaluation.

For more information, please visit LGBTQI+ Collective Advocacy.

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