Thanks for 2014!

We thought it might be nice to reflect on the past year which has been pretty mega for SAND

Amongst other things to write home about, Peter Tatchell, Sue Sanders, Bisi Alimi, Jane Traies,

Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell

Tom Robinson and Carol Ann Duffy all joined us as Named Supporters, helping to lift our profile and increase credibility. On more than one occasion SAND has definitely been received more seriously because of these connections.

At the other end of the ‘glamorous’ scale – we set up a Paypal account! This was quite a thing for us because we did it at a time when not a penny had gone in or out of our bank account. Faith will-out and it came in very handy recently. This has joined our on-line giving site ‘Golden Giving’ to increase our ability to receive donations and payment for goods and services (all planning ahead to the time when we have these things to sell :-))

Towards the beginning of the year, we were successful with our HealthWatch research grant application and started interviews and discussion groups which are still underway. It has been a very valuable piece of work to date as we find out more about the issues affecting older and old LGBT people in Shropshire as they access (or anticipate) health and social care services. We are planning to bring interviewees together in the New Year before writing our report which will go to HealthWatch England as well as HealthWatch Shropshire.

Partly promoted by this research project, we developed a Confidentiality policy and an ethical policy for SAND to ensure that we work with integrity and model good practice. This focus on getting our house in order included conversations about branding and ultimately the production of banners, badges & business cards.

With our identity intact, we held our Launch in June. About 40 people came to celebrate with us and it was a great afternoon with displays, cake, presentations, cake, conversation and did we mention cake? Thanks must go to FRESh for the funding to pay for the venue

BannersNext up was the Shrewsbury Carnival which presented the perfect opportunity to try out our ‘teardrop’ banner. At least 4 of the SAND Action Group went along to walk with the LGBT float and what an afternoon was had with lots of rainbows and gay anthem music.

Back to business and 2014 saw the development of our SAND presentation. It is designed as a facilitated session which lasts an hour or an hour and half and which works (with a few tweaks) with a variety of audiences. Thus far we have delivered it to Glendwr University social work students; Shropshire Information, Advice & Advocacy Forum; FRESh; Shropshire Solicitors for the Elderly Network; The Vicarage Care Home staff.

With an eye to the future, the SAND Action Group set up a process to log in-kind hours so we can keep track of the actual cost of the work that we do. In the current financial year we have clocked up nearly £10,000 worth of volunteer hours so it is worth keeping track. We fully expect this to be useful when we apply for funding and it may come in handy somewhere else too – any ideas?

SAND’s profile has really come to the fore this year. Local groups have been  helping to spread the word and linking this with other innovations – it was great when Border Women held a fundraising and awareness raising walk for SAND. In fact there were two walks, one long and one short – walkers donated to SAND as well as producing cakes to sell at the end. This was a great – and very enjoyable – afternoon.

Over the Autumn months we have been busy updating the SAND Action Plan to make sure that we keep moving forward in 2015 and beyond. The whole Action Group is really excited about the future and feel like they really benefited from their first ever Away Day where we spent precious time getting to know each other better and collectively planning next steps.DSCF0663

Of course, the year came to a close on a high with the Fundraising Auction & Disco at the end of November. If you missed it keep an eye out for publicity about the 2015 re-run, pencilled in for 21st November. Watch this space.

Here is to a similarly fabulous 2015 – we are looking forward to it.

Our annual stats for social media (which will be a bit more of a focus in 2015)

First count was Feb 2014 (in brackets after each)

Mailchimp Newsletter 57 (34)

Twitter 126 (22)

Facebook 129 (76)

Themes and flyers

In our early days we gathered together every publication we could find to start our research into the issues impacting on older LGBT people accessing care services. It is no surprise to keep tripping over more and we are keeping them safe in our publications gallery. We were fortunate enough to get a bit of money from Severnside Housing to pay for our own report where we identified some of the key recurrent themes that were jumping out at us. These provide our starting point:

Image

As time goes by we realise the increasing complexity of what we are trying to do and we know that we can’t do it all. We held some ‘visioning’ conversations for members of the action group and identified 3 priorities for SAND:

  1. Empowering older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans (LGBT) people: identifying issues impacting on them in care settings, ensuring access to information, supporting them to ‘come out’, outreach to isolated older LGBT people
  2. Targeting organisations (working together / empowering others): developing an approach to help care staff to ‘get that there is something to get’! Advise on good practice, hold organisations to account
  3. Influence: to embed good working practice, encourage appropriate service provision, to be advocates, to gather information, research and statistics

… and we have started work on each of these. We have started piloting a questionnaire with care home managers and housing support managers; we are talking to various people about doing presentations on SAND issues to different forums and groups: solicitors, advice & information agencies, bereavement organisations.

We are putting together funding proposals – the vast majority of what we do at the moment is gifted by enthusiastic dedicated individuals.

We are gradually reaching beyond the action group to involve others – there is a lot of interest out there and people genuinely want to help so our challenge is to find ways to involve others which make best use of their skills and which tickle their fancy. This might be about representing SAND on a particular forum, taking leaflets to events, putting posters up in public spaces, planning fundraising events.

We wanted a bit of profile so, in addition to the website, we have also produced publicity material to take to all sorts of events: flyers and posters; a facebook page; a mailing list and we are about to open a twitter account – the idea is to keep things buzzing!