SAND has developed ‘The Circle’ to illustrate some of the ‘additional layers’, or ‘experiences’ which may be specific to LGBT+ people. In the centre are some of the general anxieties of ageing experienced by most of us, whether LGBT+ or not.
The Circle also outlines the potential ‘knock-on’ effect of previous experiences, how ‘trauma’* impacts on people’s lives – whether in small or in large ways.
We believe there is likely to be a similar circle for other marginalised groups – with some different triggers. And, of course, we may be black and gay and disabled and old – and more.

Dignity Video - feel free to share

When working with the Circle and the accompanying ‘Script’ (in the pdf file), you may want to ask colleagues to consider the questions below.

  • How might all of this impact on LGBT+ people as they age in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin?
  • What might prevent them from accessing your services – and feel able to be their whole selves?
  • Why might that be a ‘problem’?
  • What might you/your colleagues do to mitigate against this?

This exercise is not about having all the ‘answers’ – the purpose is to get you and your colleagues to dig down and appreciate the nuances of the issues that people may face – as LGBT+ people and as providers of services.

NB – recently we have added FAMILY ESTRANGEMENT and  ‘ANGER’ to the Circle.

  • Family estrangement was particularly brought to our attention when doing recent work on experiences of bereavement
  • Many older and old LGBT+ people carry with them an anger over past injustice which may self-perpetuate poor treatment as they are labelled as angry/stroppy.

In the session we had one person narrating each section and someone else reading the quotes – it is a powerful and effective way to present this information. You could ask colleagues/participants to read the quotes.

The headings around the circle are taken from SAND’s own research with LGBT+ people in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, as well as wider research. the downloadable ‘script’ which accompanies the diagram explains the headings and includes quotes which both bring them to life. These quotes also serve to illustrate the correlation between SAND’s own research in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and that undertaken by others.
We find that we gather more and more examples every time we share this and so the circle grows and grows! That’s OK – we don’t ever use it all, just pick what is most helpful at any one time. The full ‘script’ is in this pdf file: click here.
Under each heading, alongside the quotes are also some basic discussion points and examples.
There is no priority or ‘right’ place to start and the headings are listed alphabetically for ease of reference. There are inevitably overlaps and connections between the different sections.


Here is a sneak preview to entice you to open the pdf ‘script’!

Learned deception and hidden lives

Many people say that ‘everything is alright now’ but for some, their ‘false’ public beings have been constructed over a lifetime, designed to protect and deceive in a way which keeps the individual safe. Some of us have got so good at it, that this persona is a truth all of its own which can lead to all sorts of complex situations.

Quotes from SAND Research:

  • Our (grown) children do not know about our relationship – and they never will – we have kept everything separate, including our own halves of the house. If I was left on my own, my children would want me to live near them but I wouldn’t want to leave here.
  • We’re all fairly closeted’ – it’s very hard. I have lied to (my children) all of their lives. I have been lying since I was 17 and every day it gets worse

Other older LGBT+ people may feel exposure and revelation when others come into the safe zone of their own home. They may feel that they have to hide anything which could reveal that they are LGBT, such as photographs of their partner, their past life, their friends, their social activities.

Quotes from SAND Research:

  • What is in my house that might upset and offend someone who came in to care for me? Which pictures and books should I put away?

These hidden lives can backfire when we get older – when people no longer see the relevance of sexual orientation or gender identity as important and intrinsic to our identities in later life. This may help to explain why 100% of care homes in Powys reported that they have no LGBT+ people in their care!

Do you have LGBT+ people receiving your service/s? How many are hidden?

2 participants in the first tranche of the Facilitator Training and from Cruse Bereavement Support, worked together to develop this Circle for their service


More of that funny order – now proceed to

Module 5 We Don’t Count