New network aims to uphold rights of LGBTQ+ people aged over 50 across Scotland - Michelle Supple

At Age Scotland we’re committed to showing our support for diversity and inclusion all year round, not just during Pride month. That’s why we have launched our Older People’s LGBTQ+ network, a new platform to amplify the voices and uphold the rights of LGBTQ+ people over 50 across Scotland.

The network is a diverse space for older LGBTQ+ people to share experiences, highlight the needs of LGBTQ+ older people, address inequalities and bring about change. Christina McKelvie, the minister for equalities and older people, attended our launch and welcomed the network as a platform for older LGBTQ+ people to share their wealth of experience and to help improve equality across age groups.

Many older LGBTQ+ people inform us that they feel they are often an overlooked and marginalized group. Social isolation is just one of the challenges older LGBTQ+ people in Scotland face. Research shows that older LGBTQ+ people are especially vulnerable to loneliness as they are more likely to be single, live alone, and have lower levels of contact with relatives. Most venues and social spaces on the LGBTQ+ scene, such as bars and clubs, are also aimed at a younger audience.

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Our regular network group meetings are a place where members can come together and share their lived experiences as people of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a safe place where they don’t have to put up barriers or worry about discrimination and can just be themselves. Our members come from a diverse range of backgrounds, have different life experiences and are from all over Scotland. The variety of experiences within the group show that LGBTQ+ people are not a homogenous grouping.

Michelle Supple, interim chief executive at Age ScotlandMichelle Supple, interim chief executive at Age Scotland
Michelle Supple, interim chief executive at Age Scotland

The views of LGBTQ+ people in mid and later life are now directly informing the services and support we deliver as the national charity for older people in Scotland. The network has already begun work with the Scottish Government to ensure legislation affecting older people is inclusive of older LGBTQ+ people, contributed to a new Age Scotland dementia training programme and forged a partnership with the Open University to give a public health talk about ageing and the LGBTQ+ community.

We are committed to engaging with older LGBTQ+ communities and work in partnership with other organisations to understand and address the specific inequalities they face. It is refreshing that many companies we work with are keen to consult and consider LGBTQ+ experiences in their work and this will hopefully lead to positive change in the future.

It is the older generation of LGBTQ+ people who have been through more challenging times when it comes to equality and acceptance, and they have witnessed dramatic legislative and cultural shifts. They have forged an environment in which the younger LGBTQ+ community in the UK can expect to be treated with respect. It’s vital to acknowledge their achievements and ensure that we do not forget about their varied needs.

As a country and as individuals we need to do everything we can to support our older population, especially during the tough winter ahead, and Age Scotland is determined to take a lead on that. As we get older, we can face new challenges and opportunities. Ageing often looks different if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community due to different barriers faced throughout life. You may need to know about rights, organisations and services that are unfamiliar to you. You’re not alone and we’re encouraging older people from all walks of life to call our helpline 0800 12 44 222 if you need information and advice on a range of topics. We also provide friendship for when you just need a friendly chat.

Michelle Supple, interim chief executive at Age Scotland



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