The subtleties and complexities of ageing as an LGBT+ person can add a layer to the general anxieties of ageing experienced by many. Concerns such as lack of independence, deteriorating health, losing home, losing faculties, isolation, losing a partner, losing dignity and privacy may be exacerbated by expected and experienced discrimination, physical violence and abuse because of sexual identity, negative experience of authority/professionals, learned deception, secret/forbidden lives and more.

In the autumn of 2020, the (national) LGBT+ Switchboard reported a 24% increase in the numbers of people contacting their service and a 42% increase in calls from transgender or non-conforming individuals.

The severity and reach of Covid-19 presents very real concerns that practice to address equalities and inclusion will remain low on agendas beyond the days of emergency response.

In May 2020, The LGBT Foundation published Hidden Figures: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on LGBT Communities – the largest and most substantive research of its kind in the UK. This research has uncovered some of the wide-ranging and profound effects the pandemic has had on the lives of LGBT+ people in areas such as mental health; isolation; substance misuse; eating disorders; living in unsafe environments; financial impact; homelessness; access to healthcare and support.

The LGBT+ community is recognised as a marginalised group.
All organisations could be promoting and delivering their services in a way which is most likely to remove that margin.

With help from Covid-19 Emergency Response funding from Shropshire Council, matched with our EMBRACE project, SAND has been able to establish a relationship with Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, alongside our existing partner AgeUK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, to pilot a cross-county tele-friending service specifically for older and old LGBT+ people.

The project involves reviewing existing volunteer induction, training and handbooks; inviting existing cross-service volunteers and recruiting additional volunteers interested in reaching out specifically to LGBT+ people.

An advantage of cross-county working in rural areas like ours, is that individuals who may fear identification within their own local community can link with someone who is not part of that community and is less likely to have a connection to it.