Ageing BetterPosted on 12-05-2016 by Sixth Story
It is recognised that people can become less active, disconnected from friends and family and more fearful of their surroundings as they get older. They may also be seen by wider society as people who are ‘done to’ – for instance, as pension claimants and patients – rather than people who are capable of making decisions and organising their own lives.
Ageing Better is a new Lottery-funded initiative, managed by BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council), which aims to help older people become more involved in their local communities and influence what services are provided and reduce their social isolation.
Ageing Better assists older people, and others supporting older people, to set up their own community networks and activities, with practical and financial support.
BVSC’s research revealed that by 2020 almost 57,000 people aged 65+ will be living alone in Birmingham (37% of the age group), and this rises to almost 81,000 (almost 53% of the age group) when those with a limiting long-term illness (LLTI) are included. These proportions are higher than the England and regional figures. They also found that LGBT older people face additional problems of discrimination and cultural isolation, some feeling compelled to ‘go back in the closet’ when they lose a partner or have to leave home and enter care. Some LGBT people choose not to use statutory services because their personal experience of living as a gay person has led them to expect discrimination and prejudice.
As a result of this evidence of need, there is a dedicated Ageing Better LGBT Hub to support older LGBT people, whether as individuals or in groups, to meet each other and organise activities and events. The LGBT Hub will also provide a voice for older LGBT people to influence and shape services in Birmingham, as part of an LGBT Older People’s Forum.
I have been appointed as the LGBT Hub Network Enabler. It will be my role to support individuals and groups who wish to set up networks, by, for example:
• Discussing what kind of activities they would like to organise
• Working out how they can get other people involved in those activities
• Looking at the kind of practical and financial help they may need
• Helping them to complete an application to the Ageing Better Fund, if needed
• Linking them with other groups, networks, activities and ideas
• Supporting them to get involved with influencing services for older people, by joining the LGBT Older People’s Forum
I will be contacting people who I know are active in the older LGBT community in the next few weeks, to discuss Ageing Better and see if they would like to set up Ageing Better networks. I will also keep a record of contact details of people who would like to take part in activities, so I can let them know what has been set up. I will do this via a dedicated newsletter – anyone who was signed up to the TOPAZ newsletter will receive this automatically.
So, if you are an older LGBT person who would like to get involved in activities or a person of any age who would like to get together with older LGBT people for socialising and fun activities, please get in touch with me.
0121 643 0821