Driving it all forwards

October’s meeting of the SAND Action Group was as fruitful as ever. We are starting to make sense of all the various contacts that we each have and intend to explore these and draw them together at our Away Day in November. We are keen to work out how we can best talk to Junior GPs and social workers as well as residential care staff and domiciliary workers.

Immediately after our meeting a couple of us went and delivered a presentation to the Shropshire Solicitors for the Elderly Network – about 30 people turned up to hear us give a slightly revised, audience-targeted presentation. We were pleased to receive this email afterwards: Thank you both for the excellent presentation you gave this afternoon. It was superb and much appreciated by all.

As we talk to more and more people we are still experiencing the ‘we treat everyone the same’ mantra which is a very effective block to actually listening, thinking and changing practices. We need to work on effective respEquality.onses to this to complement the fantastic graphic that we currently use (see left). We have recently produced a short fact-sheet called ‘It’s Not About Me’* – the title is a wow-moment quote from one of the care workers we spoke to who suddenly realised that we were talking about the individual LGBT person’s own experiences and life-story impacting on their ability to share and be comfortable and fit in – rather than accusing the care worker of working in discriminatory ways!

We had a similar conversation with the Solicitors for the Elderly when we are asked  if we really believed that people want to be treated differently. When we used the image above to respond to the question, saying that we are talking about how to achieve equality of experience/outcome rather than equality of the way we work with people, it became apparent that we use the language of equalities quite loosely which could be improved.

We were also challenged about the difference between LGBT people’s experiences and those of heterosexual people. For example, whilst many LGBT people have not made wills neither have many straight people. The difference for us is the reasons why which may require different responses – so, if gay men are not approaching solicitors because of an historically fuelled fear of professionals (remember those in later life now were in their 20s and 30s when homosexuality was illegal and gay men were frequently persecuted by the police and authorities) then this can surely be addressed by targeted outreach and positive images. We continue to plough on and find different ways of explaining what the issues are and helping people to understand and change the ways that they work.

Meantime we are planning some fun! On Saturday 29th November, SAND will be Photo_ad_adholding a 70s disco and auction fundraiser. It should be a great night with authentic disco playing on real vinyl, great curry at a great price and a plethora of fantastic auction items – we are adding to the list all the time – check out our auction page and don’t forget to check back from time to time. We are encouraging people to dress up and boogie down. Tickets are available in advance from SAND, Pengwern Books and Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin. There will also be some on the door.

Planning events is one thing – we are also continuing to brush up the SAND Action Plan. Having come up with some ideas for our Outcome Two: Empowered organisations at the last meeting we revisited what we’d said in order to fill some gaps and then moved onto our Third Outcome: Influencing Policy which is proving to be quite a tricky one to plan as it is so much easier to slip back into actions which are directly about people (Outcome one) or Organisations (Outcome two). We did it though – realising that our starting point should be to look at what already exists and then look at developing some model policies – should keep us busy!

Finally, we are still making movement towards becoming a real social enterprise (whatever that means) – keep watching this space! It is a slow process because we want to get it right. After much humming and hawwing and lots of advice we have plumped for a Company Ltd by Guarantee (with asset lock) structure and are grateful to UnLtd Care for the help to get to this point.

* We will make this and other fact sheets available once they have been fed back to the people taking part in the research.

This Blog records what is happening at which point of SAND’s development.

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