The UK Premiere of Gen Silent, February 2012, Shrewsbury

Our story

SAND started when a group of us went to see the same film. As part of LGBT+ History Month 2012, the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival screened Gen Silent and hosted a Q & A with senior staff from the public, voluntary and private sectors working in social care in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin. Gen Silent revealed, a thought provoking, sometimes shocking picture of the fears and experiences of LGBT+ elders accessing care services. The film consisted of a set of interviews with LGBT+ elders in Boston, USA and got us thinking about how things might be for older & old LGBT+ people in this country, and particularly in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin.

After a few informal gatherings, SAND established a core group on 15th July 2013 (we call it an Action Group), which comes together monthly to gather feedback from older & old LGBT+ people and plan future actions. We also have a broader collection of people who want to keep in touch with us, to know what we are doing and perhaps take part in different ways at different times, a growing number of Named Supporters and a Campaign which encourages us all to EMBRACE A Culture of Inclusion.

In 2017 SAND won a National AgeUK Spirit of Age Award in the Equality & Diversity Category; in March 2018, SAND registered as a Community Interest Company and, in 2019, SAND was awarded a 5 year Reaching Communities Grant from the National Lottery Community Fund for our project EMBRACE A Culture of Inclusion!

A bit of Magic as SAND won the Spirit of Age Award in the Equality & Diversity Category at the National Age UK Awards, London 2017

Our approach

SAND takes a targeted approach to increasing LGBT+ inclusion, challenging discrimination, promoting accessibility and equality of opportunity for LGBT+ people ageing in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin. We work with the LGBT+ community and service providers to develop inclusive practice in general, while focussing on the particular experiences and needs of LGBT+ people.

Our intention is to:

  • Increase awareness of equality and diversity issues at all levels
  • Understand and work to reduce the incidence of both deliberate and unintentional disadvantage and exclusion and reduce episodes
  • Value diversity and highlight the relevance of different life experiences and associated needs
  • Promote participation of LGBT+ people, their carers, friends, family and other allies.

Vision, mission

SAND visualises a future where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin are fully integrated into the community. A community that values their experiences, meets their needs and offers appropriate personalised care as they age.

We believe that if we can

  • Identify and address the barriers that impact on LGBT+ wellbeing in later life
  • Bring about change in organisations’ working practice
  • Tap into influential policy making channels

Then we can fundamentally influence the way in which LGBT+ people and those who care for them experience – and expect to experience – ageing.

The Office for National Statistics (2021 Census) tell us that there are 32,700 people over the age of 65 in Telford and 82,000 in Shropshire (by the way, this Shropshire figure is predicted to rise to 125,900 by 2043).
Arguments abound over the number of LGBT people present in our populations but, conservatively, Lesbian and Gay populations can be said to range from 2.5 – 5.8% which means, in Shropshire Telford & Wrekin we are likely to have anywhere from 2,867 to 6,652 LGBT people over the age of 65 – and many others below that age – then add in Bisexual and Trans and clearly we have more than that. How many do you know?

Ludlow Pride alongside the Fringe, 2018