We are distracted – not only by this amazing rainbow spotted from Shrewsbury Station, but by many things – which is a good thing and which means this post is a little late – apologies for that.
Many of the SAND Action Group members work full time in the paid work environment, others pack their time full of voluntary activity, others pack their time full of other joy. Basically – we are a busy busy bunch and recognise that we are not the only ones. This time of year offers some of us a bit of a break to catch up – for others it is still full on and we are particularly mindful, and appreciative of, all of those people who work in care services. We also want to ensure that those same care providers are equipped to respond to older and old LGBT people in the most appropriate way possible – that is part of what we are about.
We are very excited about our upcoming work with service providers specifically focussed on their practice when working with older and old trans people in the County. We have started meeting to develop our own work plan and will be contacting service providers in the new year to start the first round of interviews. This is a ground-breaking piece of work in Shropshire and we are chuffed to bits to get a Healthwatch Shropshire research grant to undertake it and look forward to getting started ‘proper’.
We are also a little occupied by our involvement in the National Festival of LGBT History, due to take place in February 2016. Shrewsbury is the Hub for the whole of the Midlands region and some of the SAND Members are heavily involved in its development. The Festival offers a full weekend of presentations, films, entertainment and more, as well as an exhibition at the new Museum & Art Gallery in Shrewsbury. Much of the weekend is free to enter (tickets may be required) – check it all out here: History Festival. There will be contributions from International Human Rights Campaigners Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell; entertainment from All the Nice Girls; presentations from a whole host of academics, story-tellers, activists and authors. Also joining the festival is Stu Maddux – Stu is the Director of Gen Silent – the film that was the inspiration behind SAND’s development – it was screened by the Rainbow Film Festival in February 2012, followed by a panel discussion and questions from the floor. People in the audience then said they wanted to do something to find out about, and improve the situation for, older and old LGBT people in Shropshire. Come and meet Stu and ask him some questions – he is totally delighted about our SAND story and we are so looking forward to sharing it with him – you can book your seat to watch his new film ‘Reel in the Closet’ followed by a discussion on Sunday 14th Feb here: Reel in the Closet.
Onto other news and – one way or another (disco, auction and donations mainly), SAND now has a bit of money in the bank once more which makes it more possible to carry on with our work. We work to a modest budget and keep a (monetary equivalent) track of the volunteer hours contributed to SAND, which we started counting at the start of April 2014 – these volunteer hours now value in excess of £28,000!
In our last post we made a plea for people to contribute to SAND via our Well-Wishers scheme where individuals give a small amount each month. At our last meeting we had some lengthy discussion about this and would really like to encourage lots of people to contribute the price of a cup of coffee a month. Obviously this differs depending where you buy your coffee from but we thought between £2 and £3 per month. Imagine the difference that ten of these would make to the work that SAND can do! To join our existing valued Well-Wishers just click this link and complete the form: Well-Wishers (if that doesn’t work for you, please try this PDF version) and return it to us.
Linking all this together, we also talked about the presentations that SAND makes to organisations – somehow there can often be an assumption that we can/should do these for free. This is totally untenable for an unfunded group – especially one trying to operate more as a social enterprise! Hence, we have made the decision that we just cannot do ‘free’ – it would ultimately be the downfall of SAND to survive on nothing when offering a service to organisations which employ salaried staff. Of course, there will always be exceptions but as a general principle we do need service providers to value what we offer and contribute to our ability to provide to others in the future. SAND rates are very reasonable – between £75 and £250 for a 90 – 180 minute presentation and facilitated conversation. This feels like a very healthy and helpful discussion for us – and absolutely in line with our longer term planning.
Our annual stats for social media
Mailchimp Newsletter 60 (Dec 2015 this was 57; Feb 2014 this was 34)
Twitter 182 (Dec 2015 – 126; Feb 2014 – 22)
Facebook 176 (Dec 2015 – 129; Feb 2014 – 76)
Here’s looking forward to 2016.
This Blog records what is happening at which point of SAND’s development.