Research into LGBT+ sexual health services during Covid-19 wins award

A project facilitated by the ESRC-funded Collaboration Labs programme at The University of Manchester has been recognised with an award.

Collaboration Labs creates collaborative opportunities and provides professional training to impact the wider community with innovative projects. The Project Excellence Award recognises innovative approaches to academic research and outstanding impact achievements.

Despite early reporting of the pandemic as a ‘great equaliser’, research has shown that its detrimental effects have been unevenly distributed among populations. In particular, both the virus and social distancing have had a disproportionate impact on LGBT people, who already suffer from higher rates of poor mental health, are more likely to live alone, and require more formal support services.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, sexual and reproductive health and genitourinary medicine services saw a drastic reduction in capacity and a changed mode of operation. LGBT Foundation transferred its services and activities online, closing its office in Manchester’s gay village – and evidence suggests that there was an increase in the number of people who used their services.

Dr. Jaime Garcia-Iglesias researched people’s experiences of these services, their views of online activities, and their desires for the future. This is the first time such research has been undertaken, and in light of this work, Jaime will now contribute to a national discussion around the future of LGBT+ healthcare services, directly engaging with the NHS & policymakers in the coming months.

“This is one of the first – if not the first – report of its kind in the UK,” said Lauren Duffy, Sexual Health Lead at the LGBT Foundation. “This means that the insight it provides will surely have a significant impact on the remote health promotion strategies of organisations and their communication with the communities they serve.”

“This project demonstrates the excellent synergies that can be created between post-graduate research and the business community to add value to the wider community, when strong personal initiative, meaningful stakeholder engagement and punctual project management are involved,” said Dr. Rosalinda Quintieri, Collaboration Labs Director.

A project which supports citizen-led environmental activism was also recognised with an award. A team of researchers provided Envirolution – a Manchester-based cooperative that promotes citizen-led environmental and social change through community engagement – with rich data on the impact of its work, and a toolkit to help their future activities.

Collaboration Labs at The University of Manchester facilitates fully-funded research consultancy, professional training and coaching opportunities.