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Sir Ian McKellen Launches New Programme Supporting LGBT People Over Fifty

Published: 05 June 2019 Tags: By Joe Nellist

LGBT Foundation are delighted to announce that our patron and legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen has today joined us at a very special event to launch our newest programme of work – Pride in Ageing.

Pride in Ageing will work to end the inequalities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people over 50 in Greater Manchester and ensure that they have access to inclusive housing and care later in life. The programme will also tackle the social isolation faced by LGBT people over 50 in the UK, which we know is commonplace and has a significant impact on their health, happiness and wellbeing. It will also celebrate the positive aspects of being an LGBT person in mid-to-later life in our city-region, bringing people together to share their stories and experiences, and building a community of active and empowered LGBT people.

Many LGBT people over 50 have grown up in a world hostile to their identities. Some will have come of age before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, and may have experienced significant discrimination and prejudice in their lifetimes. Attendees at the event also heard from the experiences of some LGBT people over 50 and some of the challenges they have faced.

Only 12% of LGB people aged over 50 living in Greater Manchester said that they had never experienced a mental health issue, with over half having experienced depression or low self-esteem, and 48% having experienced feelings of isolation. Three in five older LGB people were not confident that social care and support services would be able to understand and meet their needs. More than two in five had the same concerns about mental health services, and one in six about their GP and other health services. 59.4% of trans people have indicated that ‘not being able to access appropriate care that is trans-friendly’ is a major concern for care in later life.

Speaking at the event, Sir Ian McKellen says:

“No one is born with prejudice, it’s something you learn.

Growing up, even in Lancashire, what is now Greater Manchester, 70 years ago, it was a total silence. There was no mention of sexuality other than heterosexuality at school, on the radio, in church. Absolute silence. So is it any wonder that people who are older, when things are hazy, they may think back to a time when things were different?

Waving the banner for full and total equality, and love, is something that has my total support.”

Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation, says:

“We’re incredibly grateful to Sir Ian for launching this incredibly important new initiative. We know that LGBT people over 50 are at a much higher risk of isolation and are under-recognised in health and social care services, and may be facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe that all LGBT people over 50 have the right to an excellent quality of life in later years, and look forward to working to end the many inequalities that LGBT in mid-to-later life face”

Carl Austin-Behan, says:

“This really is a fantastic initiative, and I’m honoured to be speaking at the launch today. It’s great to see a programme that highlights the specific needs of older LGBT+ people, and that they will be working to end inequalities faced by older LGBT+ people by improving the quality of health and social care. It’s amazing for Greater Manchester to be leading the way in supporting older LGBT+ people and celebrating what it means to be an older LGBT+ person, especially as we are all getting older and will be requiring the services highlighted”

Councillor Bev Craig says:

"Manchester is a proud, diverse city which has led the way in the fight for LGBT+ equality, and is once again leading the charge with this vital piece of work. Alongside the LGBT Foundation, Manchester City Council is committed to ensuring that as LGBT+ age, they are best supported to live full and happy lives in our city, supported by inclusive, high quality services if and when they need them. We are proud to be leading the way with our flagship LGBT+ Extra Care Scheme and the development of a kite-mark for social care services. I hope that the launch of this programme will benefit older LGBT+ people for years to come"

Greater Manchester’s Lead for Ageing and Equalities, Brenda Warrington, says:

“Our ambition is to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow older. Working together with our partner agencies and older people’s networks, we’re changing the narrative on ageing, and moving away from damaging, negative stereotypes. We all have different wants and needs as we age, just like the rest of the population, and public policies need to better reflect that. The work of Pride in Ageing will help policymakers much better understand and meet the needs of older LGBT people when it comes to important issues like housing, health, and social care.”

Sue Baines, Director at Barclays, says:

“Through our partnership with the LGBT Foundation we hope to make a significant difference to the lives of many over 50 LGBT people here in the Manchester and the North West. Barclays Spectrum is proud to be a key sponsor of the “Pride in Ageing” programme. By working together we can give access to Barclays employability, digital, & resilience training. Through Barclays Bolder Apprentices programme - which is open to all ages – we can also provide access to employment for those with the skills match, and seeking a new career path.”

The programme has been proudly funded by Barclays Spectrum, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, Manchester City Council and Age Friendly Manchester.