Help us combat loneliness and isolation in older LGBTQ people by providing a sense of community through regular social activities.
by Switchboard in Brighton, England, United Kingdom
We aim to ensure that Older LGBTQ people live happier, healthier and independent lives free from prejudice and discrimination. Everything we do is informed by the lived experience of older LGBTQ people.
We know that there is a real need for our project - older LGBTQ people report high levels of loneliness and lack of social and community engagement. Research shows older LGBTQ people are more likely to live alone and less likely to have family support, partners and children to care for them as they age and help them stay connected to others. Recently a member of our group attended a drop-in a few weeks following a bereavement. They live alone and the weekly meet up provides a real life line for them. After one such meeting they gave us the following feedback, "I felt really suicidal when I came to the last group. I didn't really care if I got knocked over by a bus. But somehow by the end of the session I felt better, and I even had a laugh about something. I'm glad you're here, I know I will see a friendly face who I can talk to."
One of the most important parts of our project is building community and breaking isolation by bringing people together at our three drop-ins a month, and linking people to befriending services who we recruit LGBTQ befrienders for. Our groups enable people to be supported and connected in times of difficulty like bereavement and diminishing mental, physical health or memory loss. They are seen as a positive part of the week by our members, who often have diaries full of medical appointments. They are somewhere where, "I can truly be myself without worrying, or deciding if I am going to have to come out to someone who might not accept me".
Older LGBTQ people often contact us because they may have lost touch with other LGBTQ people over the years for a range of reasons. Often their first question is "where do I go to meet others like us?" Our project provides a safe space to meet others and many friendships have developed outside the group. Our meet-ups make older LGBTQ people visible in a safe way; “it was the first day trip I have ever enjoyed as I could relax and be myself with others like me, and I didn't feel people were staring at me or talking about me, which is how I feel when I'm on my own".
Many have kept their gender identities and sexualities hidden from neighbours, health care professionals and other services that they use, preferring to go ‘back into the closet’ to avoid facing hostility and prejudice. Most have experienced discrimination and a lack of understanding from mainstream services which can make them feel anxious about asking for help. Our groups support people to regain their confidence and provide a place where those with more complex needs can get support from an experienced LGBTQ worker and be signposted and supported to use other services.
But with continued cuts to our core budget this funding is vital in order for our work to continue. All we need is 100 people to donate £10 to make this a reality.
Our groups provide a lifeline for many people. By donating you will help us to break the isolation and loneliness many LGBTQ face, bringing them together to do something fun, relaxing and inspiring.
“Events such as this help reach out to older LGBT people, and helps people feel less isolated. When we become older it is harder to have a sense of community as we lose the links that work give us. Having community transport helps people such as myself with mobility problems to be able to attend events, and is an affordable option, which is important as income decreases with age. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Charleston and meeting with other like minded people.”
“I am more reclusive than is good for me, so I enjoyed being part of an accepting group and having the freedom to both enjoy the company of others as well as stepping out on my own in the gardens. It's so important to connect with others. I feel better, and I feel like I'd like to do it again!"
"It was a joy to go on a trip with people I would never normally encounter. Also to see again friends I have lost touch with for years. When can we go out again?"
“It was so lovely going out as a community, I feel so lucky to have come along, the memories and images will stay with me for a long time."
This project offers rewards in return for your donation