Ageing Better in Birmingham is currently looking at the underlying causes of isolation within our 4 priority communities (LGBT, Carers, Sparkbrook and Tyburn) ; to reduce isolation now and to prevent others becoming isolated in the future. To undertake this work, the programme is creating a Local Action Plan with each priority community to understand the causes of isolation and to explore potential solutions; so the Ageing Better Programme is able to implement activities to address these causes.
The programme has worked with older adults within the LGBT community to start the process of co-designing the content of the Local Action Plan. This has been achieved through an online survey, face to face consultation and the creation of an older adult steering group facilitated by Birmingham LGBT. This information represents the initial findingsof this work for review by members of the community as part of an ongoing process of consultation.
Initial Consultation findings:
Causes of isolation for Older Adults within the LGBT Community in Birmingham
Older LGBT people in Birmingham have told us that:
Outcomes for the LGBT Community in Birmingham:
Key activities and solutions identified by older LGBT people in Birmingham
Solution 1: Ageing with Pride
To achieve outcomes 1, 2, 4, 5.
Ageing with Pride will raise awareness of isolation within the LGBT community and bring the issue into public consciousness, both across generations within the LGBT community but also across all communities within Birmingham. Ageing with Pride will aim to:
Ageing with Pride will work to campaign and raise awareness, ensuring that isolation within older LGBT people is an issue that is within the public consciousness when discussing LGBT issues. It will also highlight that the current older generation are the first to be openly part of the LGBT community, which means that being older and part of the LGBT community together is something that is a relatively new issue within the community itself. The Ageing with Pride programme will utilise volunteers wherever possible to achieve the above aims, with an organisation in place to support volunteers to achieve this.
The following activities are proposed to meet these aims:
An intensive ‘Ageing with Pride’ campaign throughout Birmingham
This will include personal stories about living with isolation as an older LGBT person, raising awareness of this issue. These will be publicised regularly through LGBT specific publications but also through Birmingham wide media such as the Birmingham Post and Mail to campaign around the issues and causes of isolation. The campaign will highlight positive human interest stories about coming out of isolation to encourage others to take the first step. It will also highlight what it is like to be an older member of the LGBT community. An LGBT specific publication for older adults will be produced; ran largely by volunteers across all platforms (both print and digital) and will tap into all generations to highlight this issue.
Ageing with Pride in Action
Part of this will work with the organisers and sponsors of Birmingham Pride to incorporate the needs of the older LGBT generation within the parade and associated activities. This will either run separately or in conjunction with the Birmingham Pride parade. This will celebrate the contribution of older people within the LGBT community and explore people’s experiences and share these with younger generations. The activity will aim to become sustainable through strengthening relationships with commercial sponsors and organisers for Birmingham Pride to incorporate older people’s needs into future activity. Ageing with Pride in Action will work with current LGBT activities across generations to raise awareness of isolation in older adults and mobilise the community to take notice of this issue, inspiring existing activities to become more age friendly and tailor their activities to suit their interests, skills and hobbies.
As well as focusing on LGBT specific activity, Ageing with Pride in Action will seek to identify LGBT friendly activity within local communities. Local activities and groups that declare themselves as LGBT friendly will be advertised through the campaign to raise awareness of locally based activity for those who may be isolated. Those listed through the campaign can voluntarily sign up to the Ageing with Pride values (including a discrete logo to publicise at their venue) to increase confidence amongst older LGBT people that local activity and groups are LGBT friendly.
Ageing with Pride Ambassadors
Ageing with Pride Ambassadors will be volunteers who will act as the first point of contact for older LGBT people who wish to engage with both LGBT led activity and local community activity. They will offer a welcoming introduction, enabling members of the community to take their first steps out of isolation. The ambassadors will be trained by an organisation/agency to enable them to befriend and help older LGBT people engage and make new connections across Birmingham. The Ambassadors will also work with and encourage existing LGBT led activity to become more age friendly.
Ageing with Pride Steering Group
A steering group will be formed to oversee both the Ageing with Pride Campaign and Action. This steering group will be supported by an agency and will be constituted of older LGBT people, who will be passionate about this issue and driving the Ageing with Pride agenda forward. It is envisaged that the steering group will act as the central point for Ageing with Pride, encouraging others to take the first step out of isolation and ensure that all activities within Ageing with Pride are working together to achieve the desired outcomes.
Solution 2: Raising awareness and training within the Health and Social Care sector
To challenge perceptions and educate staff and residents to prevent prejudice within care homes and Health & Social care services, a series of conferences and training suites will be designed by members of the LGBT community. These will be piloted in the first instance with several health and social care providers. Whilst benefitting the older population, this solution will take a whole generation approach to prevent feelings of isolation and prejudice when accessing health and social care services for future generations.
This solution will contain the following activity:
These initial findings will eventually form the basis of a detailed project plan through continued consultation, which will be widely published in January 2017.