When Stonewall Housing approached us last year with a social injustice and a dream of how they wanted to help solve it, we were all ears. They told us that for too many of their older LGBT clients, housing and community was a big problem as many of them remained in the closet for fear of persecution, they are lonely and isolated and those in care felt the care was inadequate to deal with issues relating to their sexuality. Bob Green, Stonewall Housing CEO told me he had a dream, a big idea that the UK could adopt a similar housing scheme as seen in places in America, Berlin and Sweden where an LGBT community was created and members could come together and meet in a social hub whilst the housing provided a safe environment with likeminded people.
Like all big ideas and dreams, it’s often difficult to know whether they can come to fruition so when Bob asked us to support them by part funding a feasibility study, we felt that Commonweal was not only interested in the learning the study would give us and the wider housing community, but we also felt it was a great opportunity for us to be involved along with Big Lottery Fund in being part of some collaborative research that could lead on to informing and helping to shape future housing, care and support for the older LGBT community.
The study was published and launched last week at the offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP where the audience got their hands on the copy of the report and also got a first look at the website created for the research. The website is now live and you can access it to see the report, look at the feedback and the recommendations, how the work is progressing and you can also add your voice to the campaign.
The study not only suggests that a LGBT hub could be possible, they also make recommendations that can be achieved in the shorter term such as:
- Recommendations for action to support and encourage the development of specialist older LGBT housing schemes across all tenures
- To encourage housing and care providers to develop good practice and greater understanding in their provision of services to the older LGBT community
- To develop a resource pool to bring together research, learning and experiences of older LGBT housing
- To work with housing providers and others on the development of a range of housing options in order to maximise the choice of housing available to older LGBT
- To provide advice and support to individuals and groups who want to work together to create their own housing and support solutions
- To build links and shared understanding of different housing options between providers and customers
To visit the website simply go to www.buildingsafechoices.org.uk
You can view and download the full report here
Amy Doyle is Project Manager for Commonweal Housing