Still the single project I am most proud of, and the best people I have ever worked with.
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LGBT Sheffield is a charity organisation linked to Sheffield City Council that aims to work with the existing services in the city to provide a wealth of support and information for people who fall within the diverse spectrum of minority sexualities and gender identities that are often referred to under the umbrella of the “LGBT Community”.
Live LGBT is a project that evolved out of the need for a dedicated space in the city centre that can cater to people of all ages within this category, many of whom are under-represented and have limited access to support. Working closely with LGBT Sheffield, existing support organisations and various community groups, the Live Sheffield team has explored potential strategies for what this space should be, how it should be organised and what relationship it should have with both the LGBT community and the wider population of Sheffield.
The research included mapping local, regional and national LGBT stakeholders; homophobic and transphobic crime statistics; and schemes already in place that work towards better fairness and equality – allowing us to observe areas that were lacking in provision of support, as well as community groups that could benefit from reinforced links to a greater LGBT network.
We simultaneously scrutinised international precedents for LGBT community strategies from data and our group’s personal experience. This was coupled with more focused field trip studies of established centres in Manchester and Birmingham.
Live LGBT hosted a series of participatory consultation events in association with a range of local LGBT organisations and in conjunction with special occasions including National coming out day. All the events were highly interactive and produced a wealth of opinions, drawings and data. Participants were invited to engage in: a mapping game allowing people to express what parts of the city they felt comfortable or unsafe in expressing their identity – revealing areas in which a community centre may be better suited; a puzzle game giving the opportunity to experiment with organising spaces in adjacency and privacy – informing layouts for a centre; and a façade game that encouraged debate about visibility and how a centre should relate to the streetscape.
The six weeks’ worth of research and analysis was compiled into a 100 page document accompanied with guides and tools for further community participation events and a design brief for the realisation of a community centre before being handed over to LGBT Sheffield to continue the project’s legacy.