We have asked Georgia Pattison from Birmingham LGBT to tell us more about the services for LBT women that are on offer.
So tell us a little bit more about your role at the LGBT Centre, Georgia.
My role at the Birmingham LGBT centre is as our Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Sexual Health Outreach Worker. My duties at the Birmingham LGBT centre involve assisting our service users with STI self-sampling kits and carrying out HIV rapid testing, as well as organising workshops/events for Lesbian and Bisexual Women. The outreach side of my job involves sexual health promotion and testing out in the community which may be in LGBT venues or universities where I am to engage with L&B Women. I also do some online outreach which involves contacting women using platforms such as our profiles on dating apps and sites which may be used by Adult Sex Workers. These online profiles are used to promote our service and as a gentle reminder to women that we are available 7 days a week for testing and 1-1 support.
What is the Well-Woman Clinic that you run?
On the first Wednesday of every month between from 4-7pm we run our Well Woman Sexual Health Clinic specifically for Lesbian and Bisexual Women, which is run in partnership with Umbrella Sexual Health Services. This service is free of charge and available on a walk-in or booked appointment basis. During the clinic our nurses offer STI and HIV testing and Cervical Cytology (Smear testing*). I am also available during the clinic for any 1-1 support sessions or general help and advice. We also have direct access and fast referral pathways to other services if these are needed such as sexual assault support services or counselling.
*This service can only be offered to women who are aged 25 years plus and who have a Birmingham or Solihull based GP.
You can find more on our website: https://blgbt.org/services/sexual-health/specialist-services/lesbian-bisexual-women/.
I noticed that you offer STI and HIV testing, is this something that can affect Lesbian and Bisexual Women too?
Of course! Contrary to popular belief in the community, we are not immune from STIs and Lesbian and Bisexual Women should still get tested regularly at their local clinic. Another myth is that Lesbian Women do not have to have their smear tests if they are not having sex with any males. This is a misconception we need to leave behind. Regardless of sexual practice/partners, all women aged 25 and over should have their smear test done every 3 years unless stated otherwise by their GP or nurse.
Are there any new plans for 2019 which our readers should be excited about?
Definitely – We would like to offer more to lesbian and bi women. We’re currently consulting with women to find out what people view’s and wishes are locally. We will be running workshops in 2019 and I hope to set up a forum for L&B women for mutual and peer support on various issues that may be affecting us. I’d really like to encourage women to complete this survey and have a say in how this service can be developed to benefit us: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VBWQCDW.
Watch out for our promotional campaigns this year too which will feature new images and literature.