Latest news

Bubble, bubble …

Things are bubbling away here at the SAND Office as we pick up a gear in response to our EMBRACE funding. We are treating ourselves to some of those essentials in life – like a printer, a kettle and some teaspoons whilst planning for the things that really matter.

  • We are exploring our theory of change with Polly from Merida and have already got the ball rolling as part of our organisational development work
  • We are also whipping our IT into shape with Cru-tech helping us to find some peace of mind with our modest computer systems – oh and to get the printer working 🙂

And … there are exciting advancements around the County in the visibility of LGBT+ aware service providers – with rainbows and SAND material cropping up in various premises.

Amidst this, we are sad to report the death of Jonathan Cutbill (seen here in the in centre of the photo) – a great supporter of SAND since we very first started in 2012.

It was Jonathan who helped to fund the film of our very first research launch event and who has attended pretty well everything we have put on.

Jonathan’s photo is on our home page and we are pleased to keep it there as a small tribute to him.

Jonathan was also a familiar face at LGBT History Month Events, including our exhibition launches. If you have missed the exhibition, then you’re in luck – nip along to Theatre Severn and head for the Manby Bowdler Exhibition space on the top floor to see the LGBT+ History Boards on display, alongside the Samuel Butler Boards from Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.

New things all around us

It is funny how a sudden injection of funding can lift an organisation like SAND even before we start spending! Our National Lottery Community Funded project EMBRACE does not start until June but already it is having a significant impact, as we are planning the future very differently.

Included in the funding is some money for ‘Organisational Development’ which is going to help us with practical things – like a printer, professional advice, an Away Day, some promotional materials. But, even before we start getting those things, we realise that we need to – and can – replace our trip-hazard carpet in the office! And so – happy days – our meeting this week began with a carpet choosing exercise. We are lucky enough to know a good outlet: The Carpet Gallery who were only too happy to supply us with a sample pack to play around with. Nothing galvanises quite like shopping-with-ease and we had a very animated discussion before choosing … beige!! Ha ha – with the proviso of sourcing a rainbow rug – over to Julien at The Carpet Gallery for that one!

Shopping aside, we had much to report on this month as things step up. Our feature on local BBC Radio attracted a flurry of communication from interested parties, as did our recent presentation at the AgeUK conference. Consequently, we have already been to meet people at Connexus Housing Association; Wrekin Housing Trust (Independent Living Coordinators) and Telford Citizens Advice Bureau – and are due to get together with Midland Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – Memory Services.

In April, we also delivered a half day training session for Green Oak Foundation, who tweeted:





SAND waved goodbye to David Coull – outgoing CEO of Coverage Care and great supporter of our work, and had the opportunity to say hello to his successor, Chris Wall. During these conversations, we discovered that SAND has had a mention in an Outstanding CQC report – see page 14! We continue to work with Coverage and will be screening the 25 minute version of Gen Silent for them in the next few months as part of their commitment to EMBRACE a Culture of Inclusion.

It feels as though May is a month for adjustment as we move ever nearer the formal start of our big project. We are already advertising for help with marketing and design and planning ways to increase our capacity. We have identified a Critical Friend to help us think through how the project can happen at a practical level and will soon be engaging the whole Action Group in an exploration of how change will happen.


We shall create magic

– at our own pace!

Solid Foundations

With our brand new EMBRACE project just around the corner, we have started laying the foundations. We know that we are going to need more support and more capacity to get the very most from this project and the Organisational Development aspect of the funding from the National Lottery Community Fund is there to do just that. Continue reading “We shall create magic”

Our big story!

We have been pretty quiet so far this year while we digest this news:

SAND has been awarded £150,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund!!

Thanks to the money, raised by National Lottery players, SAND will develop a 5 year project which aims to “EMBRACE a culture of inclusion” in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin. We will build on local knowledge and experience, create a collective vision of an inclusive future in health & social care and work collaboratively with older and old LGBT people, service providers and others to achieve the vision.

Stu Maddux, Director of Gen Silent – the film that started it all off, said: “I am so proud that our film has been the springboard for such important and inspiring work. Thanks to National Lottery players in the UK, SAND can really make a difference”

Welcome, 2019

Happy New Year and it looks like 2019 will be busy busy.

In 2018 we connected with over 700 people through our Grains of SAND project. Our Awards for All funding has now come to end and has been a fantastic kick start to this work – we won’t be stopping anytime soon but we may be slowing down a bit!

Our Comic Relief funding has also now ended and we have completed our business plan to engage health & social care providers in learning more about inclusive ways of working. We’re delighted to welcome Coverage Care and the Community Health Trust as our first investors.

SAND has also been invited to deliver awareness sessions as part of the Shropshire Joint Training programme – we’re rather proud to note that our first session is fully booked already!!

We’re also busy supporting Back in Time 4 – Shrewsbury’s celebration of LGBT History with a fantastic programme open to LGBT people, friends and allies – do come along!

SAND will be taking part in AgeUK’s upcoming Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll Conference on 11th April

We are also plotting another workshop with our Grains of SAND interviewers and an event with age UK about planning for ageing and dying. Watch this space!

Some interesting things in other places:

LGBT Youth Festival in Birmingham 23 Feb

LGBT Foundation (Manchester) is advertising for a Pride in Ageing Manager:

Kings College, London are researching the experience of communication between health and social care professionals and LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans) people with serious illness about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender history – click here for more information: 


Traditional annual social media count:

Mailchimp Newsletter  53 (Jan 2018 62 Jan 2017 13 [because we re-jigged and started again] Jan 2016 60; Jan 2015 57; Jan 2014 34)

Twitter 334 (Jan 2018 254; Jan 2017 213; Jan 2016 182; Jan 2015 – 126; Feb 2014 – 22)

Facebook 268  (Jan 2018 246; Jan 2017 227; Jan 2016 176; Jan 2015 – 129; Feb 2014 – 76)


Crowdfunding and fundraising – every way we look

Still  busy, busy. In the past month we have – amongst other things – launched the Crowdfund Campaign for the 2019 LGBT History Month Celebrations. The Crowdfunder is open for the whole of November and every pound is so so valuable – please give what you can and share the news so that friends and colleagues can join in. If we increase the total by £50 a day, we’ll crack it together!


Photo Credit Sue Holmes – click here to go to the Crowdfunder page

We’ll be updating on the programme very soon so keep an eye out!

Meanwhile, our Grains of SAND interviews continue – huge thanks to everyone who is taking part, either as interviewers or as interviewees. As part of this project we’ll be at Qube in Oswestry 10am – 12noon screening Gen Silent, eating scones and – we’re delighted to announce that we’ll also be screening Polaroid People which we spotted during the Rainbow Film Festival.

As well as making the most of current projects, we’re also in the midst of writing further funding bids and at this month’s meeting we had some fantastic discussion about how we’ve been involving people in what we do over the past 5 years – and how we can do so for the next 5. Here are some of the things that came up. We have:

  • interviewed people to find points of view, concerns, cares and worries – which we are conveying to various people in the community who are unaware of concerns and needs
  • attended and shared information about what we are doing at various events involving voluntary and statutory bodies across the county – and people have then come to us
  • outreached at specific events – targeted our awareness stalls
  • engaged people locally – and further away
  • increased visibility within LGBT and mainstream media with features in press and on radio
  • outreached to younger people – future carers 
  • provided good quality refreshments, illustrating our value for peoples time and contributions
  • developed and maintained an online resource bank
  • adopted the LGBT History Festival as a project for celebration of LGBT lives
  • facilitated engagement by offering travel expenses and having a presence in different geographical areas
  • built a social media presence: twitter, facebook and you tube
  • provided training and volunteering opportunities
  • met regularly and hosted events each year
  • involved ourselves in a film project about LGBT experiences and lives 
  • kept a blog and newsletter – and a track of all the places we have been!

Talking about going places one of our supporters recently went down to London to an event by the Oral History Society; and this month, we’ve had meetings with the Deputy Provost at the University and the Director of Adult Social Care & Housing at Shropshire Council. We’ve given presentations to the Shropshire Partners in Care & Shropshire Council Adult Social Care Forum and had a presence at the CEDAR Day of Death Education ; International Mental Health Awareness Day, both Jennifer Ingelhearts and Andrew Lumsden‘s presentations as part of the Wilfred Owen Festival, the Arts Alive Creative Conversations launch  and the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival and the screening of Maurice as part of Oswestry Film Society’s Pride Season and there’s more to come!



Taken a little by surprise

Photo credit: Tony Finnegan

The leaves are dropping and, strangely the temperature is rising here at SAND as things move on apace. For one reason or another we’ve been doing a bit of reflection and realise that  5 years ago, in our early time, all doors were shut to us and nobody seemed to hear what we had to say. Jump to 2018 and we are being proactively invited to speak at events, attend groups and meetings and share what we know! That is quite a shift in anyone’s book and we’ll be digging deeper in the next few weeks to consider where that might all go in the next 5 years!

We are collecting stories from LGBT people over the age of 50 in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin – if you’d like to find out more and invite us to talk with you then check out our Grains of SAND Project page. We have 15 interviewers trained up with 7 of those already out and about collecting stories. We are interested in positive and not so positive experiences that all contribute to shaping our lives, so please get in touch. Another option is to become a SAND Well-Wisher to help and support the work we are doing. Join others in contributing a few pounds per month – the price of a cup of coffee and make a difference.

We have also now launched our portfolio  inviting investment from health & social care providers in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin. We had 2 investors in the first 24 hours – find our how to join others and EMBRACE a Culture of Inclusion at

Photo Credit Tony Finnegan

In September, we hosted Libby Pearson and Ian Baxter who (respectively) wrote and performed in the play The Purple List: a gay dementia venture. Over 60 people came along to see the play, engage in an inspired Q & A with ‘Sam’ in character (played by Ian) and then with Libby and Ian as themselves. Audience members said it was:

Excellent. Very moving and honest.

Amazing, brilliant, emotional, funny, sad, an experience like no other, was just sensational

Incredibly moving and thought provoking. Educational and inspiring and it will influence my practice as a Registered Nurse and Registered Manager. It has encouraged me to be more proactive.

In February, we shall be working with the Shrewsbury LGBT History Festival crew to welcome Clare Summerskill back with a presentation from her play Rights of Passage, highlighting the struggles of LGBT asylum seekers.

Back to now, and for today and the rest of this weekend 5 – 7 October, SAND is well represented at the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival, including on the panel this very afternoon for Snapshots.
There is a handful of seats left so come on down and say hello!