LGBT Foundation, a national LGBT charity based in Greater Manchester, began meeting staff at Manchester City Council in 2016, following the production of their State of the City report, commissioned by the Council’s Equalities Team in May 2015 which identified a significant housing need among older LGBT people. Stonewall Housing, the LGBT housing association, had previous meetings with Paul McGarry of Age Friendly Manchester in 2014 and together the two charities started to meet the council formally to discuss the development of housing for older LGBT people.
September 2014 - Homes England’s Equality and Diversity Group Advisory Board started a Task and Finish Group to consider the development of housing for older LGBT people. Some of their Manchester staff lead on feasibility studies to explore the need, research schemes in other parts of the world, analyse legal aspects, identify barriers. They contacted Manchester City Council’s housing department and market tested the idea with providers in the North West to gauge the appetite, and also viewed potential sites.
Meetings between Manchester City Council officers, Paul Martin (LGBT Foundation CEO) and Bob Green (Stonewall Housing CEO) continued until 2018 where they reviewed evidence of need and the legal questions behind developing an extra care scheme that was LGBT-affirmative. These meetings were discontinued to ensure no conflict of interest if the charities ever became involved in the delivery of the scheme.
Two scoping workshops took place in December 2016 and April 2018 to discuss the plans and seek the views of older LGBT people.
February 2017 - Manchester City Council issued a press release to announce the plans to develop an extra care scheme for older LGBT people and this received a great deal of interest, including a piece on the BBC’s One Show.
November 2018 - Manchester City Council released a press release to announce that a site had been purchased for the scheme on Russell Road in Whalley Range. A pre-planning application consultation event ahead of the demolition of the old hospital building which followed was well attended by local residents.
January 2019 - Tonic, who are developing older LGBT housing in London, shared the prospect of Homes England’s Community Housing Fund and a workshop was facilitated by their CEO, Anna Kear, with some Manchester City Council officers and staff from Stonewall Housing and LGBT Foundation. A grant application was submitted and in April 2020 the project work started, with Bob Green OBE brought in to manage the work.
March 2021 - The development partner, selected by Manchester City Council, will be announced.
It is worth noting that before these discussions took place between the LGBT charities and the council, other activities laid the ground to support the venture:
- In the 1990s and before, groups such as Polari carried out research on the housing needs of older LGBT people and dreamed of developing LGBT-specific housing.
- In 2012 the Housing our Ageing Population: Plan for Implementation (HAPPI) principles and a new investment programme within Homes England with a more flexible prospectus added momentum for designing and funding housing schemes for older people.
- In 2012 Stonewall Housing started a housing group for older LGBT people, delivering housing workshops with LGBT Foundation, and launching the North West Housing Guide in Manchester City Council offices which involved engaging with the council officers, who later attended the meetings identified above.
- In 2019 LGBT Foundation’s programme, Pride in Ageing, started with partners including Manchester City Council, Barclays, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and Age Friendly Manchester. Launched by Sir Ian McKellen, it increased the visibility of older LGBT people in Greater Manchester.
These meetings also took place within the context of Manchester City Council carrying out their own housing needs analysis and setting up their Housing for Age Friendly Manchester Board. This resulted in an increased focus on extra care.