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June 28, 2018

Tackling Loneliness Amongst Older LGBT+ People

On 28 June 1968, patrons of the Stonewall Inn resisted a police raid on the venue. Raids on bars and clubs which served openly LGBT+ people were common in that era, and this uprising was a milestone in the LGBT+ liberation movement.

We’ve come a long way in the 49 years since that fateful day. But as a recent report tells us, there’s still a lot to do, especially when it comes to addressing the needs of older LGBT+ people, many of whom will have been on the frontlines of that struggle in the sixties and seventies.

The University of Sheffield recently held a roundtable event to discuss these important issues. Some of the key findings were:

  • LGBT+ organisations working in “silos” rather than being integrated with other services is a problem.
  • Some services segregate members of the LGBT+ community (e.g. being designed just for lesbians or gay men or trans people), rather than encouraging everyone to get together.
  • There is widespread lack of understanding about LGBT+ among health and other professionals, which can lead to reluctance to access service for fear of feeling discriminated against.

The report makes several recommendations for how things could be better, including:

  • Training up staff members to be “LGBT+ champions” at their organisation, so there is a contact person where other staff can ask questions and discuss issues.
  • Develop “bite-size” training for professionals, which can be easily accessed. Requiring people to take out an entire day may be a barrier to people accessing information.
  • Make it easier for older LGBT people to find what support is available (e.g. a one-stop-shop of information; algorithms for improved website search; modern version of central database)

We encourage you to read the full report and think about how these recommendations might inform your own work.