Small tasks – big ideas

Shrewsbury Carnival

Did you feel a flurry of activity start a couple of months ago? We certainly did, as SAND got a injection of fuel in the form of new volunteers, new plans, and new funding applications.

We have also started talking about sub-groups and promotions strategy!! This is to add to our growing field of Research & Development: we have now delivered 3 sessions to staff working in End of Life Care, 3 to members of Shropshire Partners in Care, one research session with Coverage Care and one research session with Radfield Home Care – these last two with more to come, plus we had a presence at the Community Health Trust Observe and Act and Equality Diversity System 2 events. There is plenty more to come and connections to made to the Housing sector, GPs, Social Work Teams and more – watch this space as we forge ahead.

It has also been brought to our attention that the Open University Open Learning has a free online course around LGBT legislation: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

A warm cockle

Feedback from our awareness raising sessions has been fantastic – which warms the cockles:

Brilliant, informative session

Wow, two and a half hours passed so quickly. So interesting and informative

Wow … thank you for your honest, your insight and making me think. I knew this course would be worthwhile but I didn’t expect to be so engaged in the subject.

Challenged prevailing assumptions and powerfully raised the issues of LGBT older and old people. Very thoughtful & insightful

History Boards out and about

We continue to go out and about to events and the History Boards, which were on show during the National Festival of LGBT History (Shrewsbury Hub) are a great eye-catching resource. Over the Summer they have been on display at Cultural Diversity Day, where people were really attracted by the local stories of Salop Assizes and Soldiers in Love; Tate Britain; The British Museum, Gay’s the Word bookshop and Oswestry Agricultural Show. If you have not had chance to catch them yet they will be at Oswestry Culture Fest, Shrewsbury Multicultural Fun Day at the United Reform Church at the English Bridge in early September and Oswestry Museum Heritage Open Day in October. Meanwhile our small exhibition in the community space of the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery continues.

    Coming up …

The Spirit of SAND – October 17th @ the Hive 12 – 4.00pm

Put the date in your diaries as we plan lunch and an afternoon to update LGBT people in the County and inform Health & Social Care Providers about what SAND has been doing – beginning with a much-requested screening of Gen Silent.

More details and booking details soon.

So, as usual there is plenty going on and we have just sent in a couple of funding proposals which could see even more great leaps.

And finally, if you haven’t clocked it yet – we are delighted to have uploaded the presentation podcast from Jane Traies at this year’s History Festival – see below. We hope there will be more of these to add.









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SAND has won!

Hurrah – that was the subject line on an email which dropped into our inbox last week!

It’s true!

Unbeknownst to us, SAND has been nominated for a National AgeUK Spirit of Age Award in the Equality & Diversity Category – and we have won!

This is amazing – real recognition of SAND’s work and our progress over the last 5 years since that very first screening of the film Gen Silent in February 2012, which started the whole thing off!

The Age UK Spirit of Age Equality and Diversity Award
…” is given to an outstanding ambassador, team or service for promoting and enabling equality and diversity for older people”

Members of the SAND Action Group will be travelling to the Awards Ceremony in London on 28th June to receive a trophy and we hope the profile of this will increase awareness of the work we – and others – are doing to increase the expectation and improve the experiences of older and old LGBT people accessing health & social care. It is a very exciting step on our journey and we are delighted.

Do feel free to share this fabulous news and encourage others to follow our blog and support SAND – ways to do that are:

Thank you to all our followers – we hope that you will continue to support SAND and feel very good about it, it is not the same without you.

We’ll be posting more news and photos as we get them, so keep an eye out for us.

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Spring is in our steps

Strange things are happening in the SAND camp – absolutely loads is on the cards locally and we have some great contacts, various sessions lined up and lots of interest – and meanwhile a sniff of wider connections further afield are back in the air. This is a great combo for us – we have never wanted to bury our heads in our own local sand (intended pun)  to the exclusion of a broader context, so this feels good.

Joe (Left) and Stu

Some time ago we had funding from UnLtd which gave us the resources to travel to events further afield, learning and sharing our own experiences. this is very valuable and it is exciting to see some more of this type of thing on the horizon. One of our broader connections is with colleagues in Chester who are holding an exciting looking event in July; another is our ongoing and growing relationship with Stu Maddux who started all this off with his film Gen Silent. Stu and his husband – and Gen Silent Producer – Joe Applebaum – were over here from their home in California this month, voicing huge support, joining us at the SAND Disco and promising their own ‘letter from America’. This photo was taken at the disco after they had raided various wardrobes in town to find a cool 70s/80s look to fit the disco theme – they did pretty well!

More on the disco later – after a quick rundown on upcoming events. This week is Dying Matters Week and our recent training session with End of Life Care staff in Shropshire quite rightly brought this to our attention. SAND has always talked about the experiences and expectations of older and old LGBT people – of course, we need to include end of life in this, which increases our own learning again. There will be some activity in The Square on Friday 12th May and SAND leaflets will be out and about at that.

We are mindful that the Jo Cox Campaign officially ran until the end of April when we were running to catch our tails but AgeUK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin is keen to carry activities forward throughout the year which is great news for SAND so we will be talking to them about that, which is easy as they are well represented on the SAND Action Group and have always been so supportive of what we do.

Also coming up are Cultural Diversity Day and Multicultural Fun Day (both local events in July) where SAND will have a presence alongside the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival and LGBT Shrewsbury.

Those are the public events – on the more targeted side SAND continues to move and shake with an ever-growing address book of partners. We are delighted to be on the brink of working with GPs – making modest inroads with trainees and practising GPs in a formal training environment; as well as with local domiciliary care providers Radfield who are working with us to identify the potential key moments for intervention; Residential care providers Coverage Care, where we will be talking to staff and understanding more about how the care process works and identifying where we can most help to inform practice.

It is worth here giving a heads-up that we are planning a public event – later in the year – to give a whole load more information on what we are doing, who we are working with, what is happening as a result and what the next year or so looks like. Please follow the blog to
keep informed of that.

On a more retrospective note, we are grateful to Shropshire RCC for a small grant which is helping us to edit some of the film footage we have been capturing over the years. The result so far is 2 short films – one is a minute long, the other is 3 mins long – not much out of your day so take a look – we’d love it if you do  🙂


And now – a little bit more disco – this was a very unusual event for us – in response to specific requests we ran an event which was a social rather than a fundraiser – and which was 70s (usual) and 80s (new) music and …. we had  blast!!! Thank you to everyone who came along and danced and generally enjoyed a great night. Special thanks to DJs Mike and Hat .. and if you enjoyed (or missed) it – you can catch them on their Funky Friday Nights at the Hole in the Wall on the first Friday of every month, hosted by the anti-austerity club.

While we’re at it – do diary in 17th June Shrewsbury Carnival – the LGBT float is such a massive event in itself – check it out and join in for next year.

And finally …… 2 of the SAND Action Group: Sal Hampson and Sue Gorbing, will be accepting a Mayor’s Award from the Mayor of Shrewsbury on 10th May for their services to the town – specifically for their contribution to the work of SAND and the LGBT History Festival. A proud moment for us all and one to reflect on current world events and potential threats to our rights and freedoms – we are totally committed to SAND and the concept of older and old LGBT people ageing well.





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Stop Press: special guests Stu & Joe

Stu Maddux

You saw it here first – we are delighted to announce that Film Director Stu Maddux and Producer Joe Applebaum will be joining us at the SAND Spring Disco, Saturday 29th April. 

Joe Applebaum

Partners – in life and in talent – Stu and Joe gave us Gen Silent – the film that sowed the seeds of SAND and we are so chuffed that the trip from their home in California to Shropshire coincides with our Disco – they are both so supportive of SAND and we are looking forward to inviting them to dance.

With DJs Mike and Hat spinning the vinyl once more – and throwing some 80’s into the mix, it’s got to be a winner!

Get your tickets in advance here – TICKETS – or on the door at the Darwin Community Centre, Frankwell, Shrewsbury, SY3 8JS. £10 a pop – friends and allies welcome. If you want to dance, come on down. Doors open 8pm.

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Can’t shut us up!

Typed in ‘tired bunny’ and got this!

Tonight’s meeting just showed how many different people and agencies we are suddenly talking to! This includes those we are plotting with for future engagement – research and discussion: University Centre Shrewsbury; some who are asking us for information: Alzheimer’s Society and those we are chasing: Centre for Ageing Better – all for starters on our list of Matters Arising.

We’re keeping tabs on what is going on around us as well, to see if there are things that we can – and should – be doing – to include the SAND message. This includes the Jo Cox campaign as well as local events like Cultural Diversity Day. It is a busy calendar which offers lots of opportunities to be seen and heard. On that note please do support our local LGBT social – the Spring Disco on 29th April which aims to be its own small display of togetherness with a good ol’ bop til you drop!

Of course the absolute core of what we have always wanted to do – and are now on a trajectory towards – is to influence positive change – the stuff that we receive when we access health & social care services. To that end it is a joy to be working with providers in the County to identify – together – the most effective messages to be delivered at the most appropriate times. We have been at RJAH where we delivered a pilot session to ward managers; we have delivered a session for the Community Health Trust to people working around End of Life Care. We are booked to deliver sessions with others: residential care provider Coverage Care; Social Work & Occupational Therapy Providers; Shropshire Partners in Care – and it feels like there are more coming to our inbox each day!!

Who’s complaining?!


Whilst all this happens we need to keep an eye on our internal organising – it can be so easy to lose sight of the stuff that keeps us grounded, so we are planning an Away Day for June. We missed out on this last year so the time is right and we are very much looking forward to it.

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Getting to the nuts and bolts of it

We’re a bit late posting information arising from our March meeting but that doesn’t mean we’re not out there and on it! In fact we seem to be getting our feet in doors and standing up in front of people and talking to them a lot about SAND, which is great. To expand on that a bit:

We gave a talk to over 100 health & social care professional at a big event at the Shrewsbury Town Football Ground hosted by Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust. It was a challenging 10 minute input alongside other fascinating contributions and we were really pleased to get such a good response – lots of positive comments from people who found our presentation really interesting and thought-provoking.

Three weeks ago, we went over to Oswestry, to the Robert Jones Agnes Hunt (RJAH) Orthopaedic Hospital where we delivered a pilot training session to mid-tier staff (including ward managers). It was an affirming and exciting experience as the exercises we had devised prompted discussions and questions beyond our expectations. We even made it to twitter!

With 15 people in the room, who all gave really positive feedback, we are hopeful that the discussions will translate to practice.

Next, we delivered to staff working around End of Life (EOL) Care – including those from Shropshire Community Health Trust and Severn Hospice, who expressed the benefit of discussions on varying terminology going around in the LGBT world, and the use of scenarios – from real cases – to frame and discuss potential issues and consider how things could have been done differently.

As always, in our experience, it is all in the discussion and people really valued the opportunity to explore issues.
Having delivered the first pilot session to EOL staff, we have a further 4 in the pipeline. Meanwhile, it seems appropriate here to give a bit of publicity for Dying Matters Week 8 – 14 May 2017. As part of this the EOL team will be in The Square, Shrewsbury 12noon – 2pm on Friday 12th May.

This month, 2 SAND Action Group members (both in their 80’s) took up an invitation to visit Withywood Shire Living  for their open day. The facility for over 55’s consists of apartments which are rented, and residents are expected to be able to live independently.

Our team wore their SAND badges which gave them an opener to explain that they were particularly interested to look through LGBT eyes, and reported back as follows:

“We both felt that there was a very welcoming atmosphere. We were  impressed with the apartments of both one and two bedrooms, which were quite spacious, and are available for rent. We asked that if a same sex couple applied to rent an apartment what  would the view be. We were told that there would be no problem. We were also informed that if any discrimination by other residents took place , those making it would be asked to leave. This would also be the approach  in relation to any other “difference”, such as physical and learning differences. In the leaflet on tenancy agreement it states ” The Trust will treat same sex partners in the same way as heterosexual partners”.

The brochure also covers:

  • “Nuisance” which specifically includes offensive language or threatening behaviour (including violence towards another person). We were told that if a resident was abusive to an LGBT person , that resident would be asked to leave. This matter is also covered under “interfering with the privacy of other”.
  • “Harassment” which states that tenant, family and visitors must not harass, threaten, intimidate or cause offence to any other tenant, neighbour, employee or contractor to the Trust on any grounds (gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, transgender, marriage or civil partnership, lifestyle, ability, pregnancy or maternity.)

The brochure also states ‘we also expect you to treat your neighbours, our staff, choices staff and contractors and care staff as you would like to be treated’.

“Both staff that we spoke with had a very good awareness of the needs of LGBT community. We did however speak about the role of SAND and it might be that Withywood  staff would find a course helpful. We raised the predicted figures of older and old LGBT people in the future, who might be in need of facilities such as Withywood. We also had some discussion of the term older and old.

Our visit finished with cups of tea and delicious scones”.

And….. it is all small steps towards significant change.

Of course, it is not all work – come and join us on 29th April for some social time – we’d love to see a good crowd in a disco light! This is SAND’s first pure social – a response to specific requests. our events are open to LGBT people, our friends and allies – which is you. Early bird tickets on sale until the end of March – 70’s and 80’s music, much vinyl on the decks and a smooth groove! Click here for tickets.


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Happy Wotnots

End of Life

End of Life

So, it is 2017 and, despite world events, things are looking fairly rosy for SAND so far. We have meetings this week and next with a variety of care providers and are hoping to arrange to deliver some pilot training – giving us the opportunity to work with  providers to develop the most relevant learning that we can.

We have started costing out training delivery so we can fulfil that ambition to work to a social enterprise model – we are simply not attractive to grant funders and we need to earn if we are to survive and take this important work forward.

We have drafted some case studies, based on real life scenarios, which we trialled at our meeting last week and they prompted loads of discussion straight away! These illustrate that we are all still on our own learning curve which feels healthy. We also shared out some publications to get our teeth into and pick out the bits that will be most helpful to feed into our work moving forwards. What with that and the ever expanding bank of resources on our website we’re feeling pretty well equipped.

CapturePublications are collected and posted on our Publications gallery page and film clips are … you’ve guessed it – in our film gallery ! We try to keep these up to date so do send any our way that you find. We also try to keep them mainly (not exclusively British – because otherwise we’d get swamped with contributions from America which are not always as useful/relevant.

We are looking for a Treasurer so please do consider joining us if you have the necessary skills and drop us a line. It is not an arduous task, but it is important!

The Shrewsbury Hub of the National Festival of LGBT History is coming along nicely, with 5 weeks to go we have already secured nearly 100 bookings for the launch night. The final 35 tickets will be available from 1st February so get in there quick if you haven’t got one yet! All details are on the Festival website:


The annual social media count:

Mailchimp Newsletter 13  (Dec 2016; Dec 2015 this was 57; Feb 2014 this was 34) – an eagle-eyed person may ask us why!

Twitter 213 (Dec 2016 182; Dec 2015 – 126; Feb 2014 – 22)

Facebook 227  (Dec 2016 176; Dec 2015 – 129; Feb 2014 – 76)

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Shifting SAND – in a good way!

flyer-picBefore we start this month’s blog – don’t miss our November Fundraiser – always a good night. This year we’re having A Night at the Races – only £5 to get in if you reserve or buy your ticket in advance, £7 on the door. It is bound to be a great night.
You can reserve a ticket on Eventbrite here: Race Night

……. is shifting SAND usually an uncertain thing? It just seemed fitting to use that as a header when we find ourselves in a time of cautiously exciting forward motion!

This month’s meeting took place on 2nd November – we are shuffling a bit with a regular date right now and hope to consolidate in the New Year, moving to the first Thursday of the month.

As to what we are doing – we have committed a few hundred quid to some training development time so we can really start to shift that SAND message into care provider forums.

We are now in touch with multiple domiciliary and residential care providers and suddenly (it seems) being heard! Hurrah! In fact there is so much going on that we have to do some serious delivery planning – bearing in mind we have no paid staff!

trainWe have also been travelling – notably down to Swansea to the Centre for Innovative Ageing where they are doing some really interesting research with Trans* people.

What with that and the forth-coming National Festival of LGBT History in Shrewsbury –  more popularly called Back in Time 2, which is now formally adopted as a SAND project, we are seriously looking at our time-management – all good!

We have a few volunteer possibilities for anyone willing and able to offer a bit of time – perhaps to do a bit of online research – without a whole load of commitment. On the other hand, we are also on the lookout for a Treasurer so – if you like looking at the numbers and fancy cutting your teeth in the voluntary & community sector, or if you have loads of experience as  Treasurer – or anywhere in between – then give us a shout – we’re a friendly bunch and we need your help.

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Catching our own tails

Apologies from us flyer-picfor our lack of communication – don’t know about you, but time in the SAND camp has been cracking on and running away with us good and proper. Talking about running away, you may be interested in our new fundraising event – the great SAND Night at the Races – click here for more info: Race Night

These fundraising events are massively important to keep SAND functioning – as mentioned before, we are not the  most popular of ’causes’ for mainstream funders so we do a lot ourselves and the annual November ‘gig’ brings in about a third of our annual income – and it is FUN – so come on down and join in. It is lovely, informal, friendly, low maintenance and a good laugh – what’s not to like?

Meanwhile, we have been meeting health & social care providers and visiting care homes to ask about their existing policies and practice. We have been getting a really interested response and are feeling very positive that – after nearly 5 years of plugging away – the sand beneath our feet is showing some signs of shifting and people are engaging with us and questioning the way they do things. It looks very much like we can now develop some training in partnership with the Community Health Trust around End of Life Care in Shropshire & Telford, as well as  – separately – deliver a pilot session for nursing staff in a care environment. This stuff takes time and, while some of it is now being paid for it is impossible to recoup all the real costs – never mind the years it has taken to get this far (and there is so much more to come!) That is what we put your money towards when you support SAND and SAND events.


Women Like That

SAND had a great response when we popped up at the 2016 Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival with the Saturday afternoon film and Director’s Q & A for ‘Women Like Us’ and ‘Women Like That’ – two documentaries which explore and revisit the lives of older lesbians in the UK from different cultures, classes and backgrounds from the 1920s to that present day (1989).

We filmed the ensuing discussion which was totally inspiring and will be making that available as soon as we can (we have not checked the quality yet!). One of our own Action Group Members – Betty features in both films and Q & A, which brings something very special to the whole experience.

SAND is also now the mothership for Back in Time – the National Festival of LGBT History in Shrewsbury, due to take place 17 – 19 Feb 2017. We are currently Crowdfunding, which is just for the month of October – we like the principle of many people giving a little – so please do join in and encourage your friends and colleagues to bring this particular bit of magic back to Shrewsbury – click here to go to the Crowdfunder:



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Learning it and sharing it

phaseSomehow or other it really does feel as though SAND is moving into a slightly different phase. We have some research underway; some training lined up with a care home; a meeting with a domiciliary care provider and (as always) lots of ideas in an ever-stuffed pipeline!

Our meetings are – without fail – great – a diverse, committed group with loads of staying-power!

We have more events lined up than ever before and anticipate that there is something for everyone here – plus some overlap so we see returning faces. First off is the plan to hold a Our_castleBuilding Our Own Castles 2 – for LGBT people sharing questions, ideas, concerns – specifically about legal questions associated with ageing. The first of these events was a huge success. In advance we had worried about numbers (this is always a concern because without the people we don’t have a discussion!) but on the day we were delighted to welcome new and familiar faces to meet and mingle. These events are pretty low-key, offering an opportunity to ask questions and get information – you never know, they may become a series! For more info keep you eye on this page: SAND Castles .. and we always offer a decent biscuit!

Next up – on Saturday 19th November 2016 – The Great SAND Race Night – a twist on the annual SAND Fundraiser and just as much fun – maybe more than before! We wanted a change from the auction format which we have run as a major fundraiser with the 70’s disco in 2014 & 2015. For this year we thought we’d do something new and again encourage new faces and old friends to join us.  We’ll post info as it arrives just here: SAND Race Night

2016-07-23 15.37.07You may recall that SAND has adopted the Shrewsbury Hub of the National History Festival as a SAND Project – so this means we are also planning for Back In Time 2  Friday 17th – Sunday 19th February 2017. Things are already moving along nicely and we anticipate another great weekend.  This is so mega it has its own website and blog so make sure you follow all that stuff to minimise any risk of missing out – it was fabulous in 2016 and there is no reason to doubt there won’t be more for 2017. Click here: Back In Time 2

And, just in case you are feeling horribly disappointed about the missing disco, we’re planning one anyway for Saturday 25th March 2017 – so keep the gladrags tidy and come on down! Keep your eye on the ball here: SAND Dance

Amongst all the activity, we have secured a (tiny) bit of funding (£420) – to help us to edit some of the video footage we have been taking – and even that little bit gives us a boost. We’ll be ‘on it’ very soon.

Keep watching, keep talking, keep supporting

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