LGBT Ireland have created a Facebook group to help older LGBT+ people overcome difficulties with socialisation caused by COVID-19 lockdown.
The Facebook group, LGBTI+ Older and Bolder, is an exciting initiative bringing together older members of the community who have been isolated from socialising opportunities due to the pandemic. On LGBT Ireland’s Facebook page, they write, “We have tonnes of exciting events, ideas and plans for making this group a vibrant, fun and positive space. Now all we need is you to join in and get involved in the conversation!”
Older LGBT+ people face particular challenges in the face of the ongoing pandemic. The “double invisibility” a person may experience results in feelings of loneliness and disconnect from their community. In 2018, it was reported that 77% of elderly people who contacted LGBT Ireland Helpline cited rural isolation as a major concern.
During COVID-19, these feelings of isolation among older LGBT+ people can be heightened because of social distancing and a widespread lockdown. This has impacted many members of the queer community in terms of their employment and social life.
In response to the pandemic, LGBT+ groups have been designing specific strategies and initiatives to meet the needs of older community members. The head of programs at Nottingham charity SAGE, David Vincent, told the Thomas Reuters Foundation, “Discrimination has also affected their employment. As a result, they may not have the savings or pension… many folks have. Their ability to prepare is not the same. So they are often… left in a complete crisis.”
Numerous charities are dedicating themselves to reaching out to older members of the LGBT+ community who live alone or face poor health conditions. Volunteers have come together to deliver food, phone elders, and raise funeral funds. Head of the Outside Project, a London based LGBT+ homeless shelter, Carla Ecola, highlighted the necessity for a funeral fund system, “We need to get cash together to bury our neighbours; that’s the reality of the situation.”
Speaking to Reuters, LGBT+ helpline Switchboard co-chair, Trash Walker, said, “I know now we’re all self-isolated and in lockdown, but one thing I definitely feel is that there is a bonding, community drive. People reaching out and volunteering or helping those who are isolated and can’t look after themselves. Maybe that’ll be a positive outcome of such a difficult time.”
LGBT+ Older and Bolder Community Group provides a platform for older members of the community to share their experiences and socialise. As LGBT Ireland further states, “Together we will do what we can to support each other and protect our community in the ongoing pandemic!”
If you are looking for any advice or support, you can reach out to LGBT Ireland by the LGBT Helpline at 1890 929 539 or log onto www.lgbt.ie.
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