From the initial idea, through to the final evaluation of the research, Count Me In Too (CMIT) was a community led project throughout.
A key success of the project was the effective engagement of volunteers, whose contributions were useful and valued by academics, other volunteers, and the LGBT community. This was achieved by identifying and assigning clear and appropriate tasks to each group, working with the skill sets and interests of volunteers who came forward to address specific tasks, and clear, user-friendly communication about meetings held in venues accessible and familiar to community members. Meetings were always facilitated rather than chaired and always had a clear purpose and identified outcomes.
The Count Me In Too Steering Group worked together from September 05 to August 06 and designed the project, including identifying potentially marginalising identities to explore, designing the questionnaire and format of focus groups, and publicising the project and promoting participation through The key tasks having been achieved, this group was wound up but there remained the opportunity to join future groups attached to the project.
An Action Group worked with researchers from October 2006 to June 2007 on carrying out initial analysis and identifying key findings. Tasks included interpreting data, compiling the research report, and disseminating findings. The group guided the researchers about what to analyse first, and identified areas that needed more in-depth analysis and were most important for our community.
Members worked on a voluntary basis, and the group secured funding from Brighton and Hove City Council Grants to Smaller Organisations to pay travel expenses, reimburse other expenses (ink cartridges, contribution towards internet connection), and provide comfortable, accessible venues with lunch, refreshments and equipment, for up to 10 volunteers.
Individuals from LGBT communities joined further themed analyses groups as representatives of a Community Reference Group working alongside employees of statutory and community and voluntary services and organisations, to explore themes including community safety, mental health, bi and trans.
During Winter 09 a Community Steering Group was formed to shape and inform the project during its next phase. This included: the development of resources that use the research; promoting the develop of research skills to enable groups to undertake their own research projects, and a Count Me In Too conference, which offered opportunities for individuals, groups and service providers working with LGBT communities to discuss and co-ordinate local and national research through the dissemination of research findings, practices and the possibilities of LGBT communities of practice. This conference was organised by an action group, composed of Count Me In Too researchers, local activists and other community group representatives.
Community consultation events took place early in 2009 where LGBT people were invited to join the community steering group. Chief among these was the With Us, By Us, For Us event. This consultation allowed visitors to gain a better understanding of the project and its findings. It also provided multiple opportunities to leave feedback for the research team. This feedback, in turn, helped to shape the trajectory of the project from April 2009 to December 2010.