In September 2017, SAND was successful in a bid to the National Lottery Awards for All scheme which funded the start of the Grains of SAND Project. This was all about collecting interview material from LGBT+ people over the age of 50, with particular references to their hopes and fears, experiences and expectations of health and social care.

One of the most impactful ways in which we communicate our messages is through sharing the stories and experience of others. We are extremely fortunate that the people whom we have interviewed through Grains of SAND, have given us a very real and personal insight. Their lived experiences inform our work and have brought to light common and challenging themes:

  • There is a very real sense amongst those interviewed that being treated differently is the norm and is something that most within the LGBT+ community come to expect and just learn to live with
  • There were varied experiences of bullying and discrimination due to an individual’s sexual orientation. However, those interviewed did not necessarily identify this behaviour as negative due to a learned ‘put up and shut up’ mentality
  • There always has been, and continues to be, an imperative for services to recognise and promote understanding of the needs of their LGBT+ service users

Grains of SAND quotes:

I have learned that if you hide and are anxious then people will bully/undermine you

I have been closeted for 20 years, all our work colleagues think we are just friends

I am more frightened at this time of my life than I have ever been

I felt an immediate attitude “I don’t want to treat you”

I don’t want to spend days hiding this and hiding that

I overheard comments in hospital “is that a man or a woman”?

If you’re confident enough then they can’t touch you

The collection of stories is now embedded into the EMBRACE project and continues to grow. The very act of interviewing LGBT+ people has highlighted the extremely diverse nature of the LGBT+ community. Their collective lived experience is enormous, colourful and important. It is distressing to imagine that any one of these individuals or others like them might end up in care or living in socially isolated conditions – feeling unable to be their trues selves, with nobody to share their story; understand their lives or pass their knowledge on to.

If you identify as LGBT+, have a current or past connection with Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and are interested in sharing your own Grains of SAND contact us.