Guest Column: York LGBT Forum - Older Person’s Subgroup

26th August 2016

York LGBT Forum is now 10 years old, became a registered charity in 2015 and is currently one the Lord Mayor of York’s Charities of the year, but who or what are the York LGBT Forum? Lisa Kelly, Co-Chair to the forum, has a regular column here with us, telling readers all about the charity and helping to raise awareness all things LGBT. Catch up with previous columns HERE, and read on for more…

Photo by Mike Slichenmyer

Photo by Mike Slichenmyer

Sue Lister is our lead for the older person’s subgroup, and she quickly realised that when LGBT people get old, they often have nobody to care for them. The figures around LGBT people who are ageing without children are at present patchy and only now being looking into and researched seriously, but from Sue’s own research around York, the figures are bleak.

So what happens when you get old and need care? If you go into a care home, then if you are LGBT the chances are you go back into the closet. An awful lot of the people currently in care homes grew up in age when being Gay was a crime and although quite a few older people have changed their views on LGBT people, there are still those who hold strong anti-gay views.

When you add into the mix that as we get older we are all more susceptible to various forms of dementia, it’s easy to see how a person can ‘regress’ back to the days of LGBT people being criminals just for being true to themselves, and all this can be very hard to deal with for care home staff, let alone for the LGBT resident themselves, and this is why Sue devised a ground-breaking care home staff awareness/training package aimed at showing how to deal with situations that can and do arise within the care home.

This training is called ‘Free to be me - in care’ and is attracting rave reviews as care homes use this training for their staff, and also to satisfy one of the care quality commissions stipulations on equality; in fact this training is so good that it has even been listed on a government website.

Such has been the impact of ‘Free to be me -in care’ that it was a natural progression to develop this same principal for the work place, and earlier this year ‘Free to be me – at work’ was launched and this is slowly gaining recognition as a must-have awareness training package for work places.

The next aim for this training is to redevelop it again and tailor it towards Schools, but as the presenters of Free to be me in care & at work are all at an age that people of School age may not be able to relate to, this project is being passed onto younger presenters who we feel will have more of a connection with Schools. Talking of Schools brings us nicely onto the subject of our next spotlight column: the Schools subgroup.

If you would like more information on ‘Free to be me’ please contact Sue Lister on 01904 488870.

As ever, you can keep up to date with the York LGBT Forum via our Facebook page, or by contacting us via email, [email protected]

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