Supporting the older LGBT community in Bury
Older LGBT residents in Bury felt they weren’t catered for in terms of what was available to them socially, and predominantly heteronormative services. They wanted to connect with a local LGBT community but didn’t know where to go that was ‘gay friendly’, particularly for people of their age. They felt they had to go into Manchester if they wanted to take part in LGBT events and activities, but some were starting to feel less safe and confident when travelling into the city.
“It would be great to have something for the LGBT community, to bring people together locally. It’s nice sometimes to be with other LGBT people.”
In February 2018, Groundwork arranged a community meeting in partnership with older LGBT residents in Bury to find out what LGBT-friendly services and activities were already available, identify any particular issues or barriers, and develop a way to work towards resolving these. They invited local community groups and residents so that a broad mix of people could be involved in the conversation.
Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, including representatives from the LGBT Foundation, members of Bury Council’s LGBT Employee Group, community group leads and residents.
Together the group identified the following LGBT services and activities that already existed in Bury:
- An annual Bury Pride event
- An active, well-attended Bury Council LGBT Employee Group
- A Bury LGBT networking email list and Facebook group – this has run for a number of years, relevant information is shared via both channels on an ad hoc basis
Bury Pride -
Launched 5 years prior as a Rainbow Walk by Bury’s LGBT Youth Group (POG), Bury Pride was still perceived as youth-focussed by the older community, many of whom hadn’t attended because they felt it was an ‘event for young people’. Some were not aware of Bury Pride at all. To address this, the Ambition for Ageing partners held a stall at the 2018 Bury Pride. They promoted the event and invited older members of the community to attend. The information was shared in the Bury LGBT networking group.
The stall was in turn used to promote an LGBT awareness-raising event the group held in April 2018, and used as an opportunity to explain to people what they wanted to achieve by creating a more LGBT age friendly Bury. Bury Pride proved a valuable networking opportunity, connecting the group with other community groups and organisations as well as local residents. A number of older LGBT attendees really enjoyed themselves, saying they would definitely attend the next Bury Pride as well as the awareness raising event.
Awareness raising event April 2018-
Organisations working with older people in Bury were invited to host stalls at the awareness-raising event, showcasing the services they already offer members of the local LGBT community. The event was fully booked with stalls and - though there weren’t as many attendees as hoped - a useful discussion was held about how the older LGBT community would like to see Bury become more age friendly.
The event ended with a group discussion which highlighted a need for increased understanding of the requirements of LGBT people in terms of the care offered through NHS services, GP access, home care, residential care, and health and wellbeing services generally speaking. The overwhelming feedback was that there is “a greater need to understand and respect the differences and needs of LGBT individuals.”
“I worry about carers and going in a care home. I want my needs to be respected and not just seen as the same as everyone else’s.”
Following the event, it was decided that an LGBT Forum would be set up to address the issues raised. The LGBT forum would be something totally new in Bury which would provide people the LGBT community in Bury with a voice.
LGBT Forum -
The Bury LGBT Forum held their first meeting in May 2018 and includes residents and members of local organisations including the Gaddum Centre, Bury Council, the Mosses Centre, Six Town Housing and Bury Pride. It is an intergenerational group for all LGBT residents in Bury, and members hope they can contribute to less division within what is an already marginalised community. Including younger people in the group is also considered conducive to its sustainability:
“Too many groups are led by older people and these groups are at risk of folding if health issues take over. [Including] younger people enables older people to share their advice and experiences and ensures there is the ability for the group to continue into the future.”
A chair has been appointed and the Forum have developed an action plan which currently runs to the end of 2020, with working parties developing different ideas.
Pride in Caring event
The group also held a Pride in Caring event in November 2018 as a result of feedback from the awareness raising event. The ‘Providing Support and Care for the Older LGBT Community’ workshop was led by a representative from the LGBT Foundation and targetted at LGBT carers and the cared for.
The workshop was attended by around 50 people not just from Bury but from Rochdale, Manchester, Tameside, Bolton and Stockport, demonstrating there is a real need for this type of event across the whole of Greater Manchester. Bury Council also supported and backed the event with a commitment to providing a better offer for the LGBT community for older people and younger people in Bury.
As a result of these efforts, older LGBT residents in Bury feel more connected and part of the community. Bury LGBT Networking and the Bury LGBT Forum have since merged and become more active on Facebook, with more people being able to share information. This has led to older LGBT residents having a voice within the community.
Listening to what people wanted has been the key to the success of the forum and showing that things could happen if people worked together – the Pride in Caring event and booking the Rainbow Train enabled people to focus on things they wanted to see happening.
The group wanted to be intergenerational to ensure all the LGBT community was included and that it could be developed. A strong feeling was around not marginalising an already marginalised group any further by bringing in age.
Working with the group has highlighted the need to continue to break down barriers and why this work is so important in making people feel like they are part of the community. Often people do not realise how many barriers are actually in place for example being asked about sexuality at Doctors appointments and starting to challenge these barriers. Including other community groups was really successful in making members of the LGBT community feel included.
The LGBT Forum is now self-sustaining, they have appointed a chair and arrange monthly meetings and are looking to become a constituted group. They have created their own logo and are developing a sticker for display in businesses that are LGBT friendly and are working on how they will do this going forwards.
A ‘Rainbow Train’ is being organised for the same weekend as Bury Pride 2019, which will be advertised and marketed locally via local LGBT networks and people who attend the forum to bring everyone together and to ensure the event is inclusive of older people by targeting the older community and offering a cheaper ticket for older residents. Plans are in place to organise monthly social events for older LGBT residents.
Due to the success of the Pride in Caring event, Groundwork are looking at holding a similar event for all carers (not just LGBT ones).
For more information about the Bury LGBT Forum and Bury Pride 2019 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Coordinator, Groundwork BBOR, Ambition for Ageing, Bury
T: 01617857414 or 01616241444