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!

Tardy Post!

Oops – the hot hot Summer seems to have led to us downing tools on our blog – but we’re back!

With lots going on it’s hard to know where to start but first off – we have a new Treasurer! With a bundle of financial skills, Katharine is a very welcome addition to the SAND Action Group and is already getting us sorted with systems and processes to make everything just that bit easier.

As reported in previous blogs, we currently have 2 funded projects on the go.

Grains of SAND, funded by the Big Lottery (Awards for All) is all about reaching out to our LGBT communities in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin. We are doing this through a series of events and interviews to collect stories of experiences, hopes and fears of health & social care. Alongside planning and attending events we have been ‘training up’ individuals to conduct interviews. This whole process includes:

  • short presentations for Telford LGBT to outline the project, let people know it is in the making and tweak interest
  • a workshop led by Jane Traies on things to think about when conducting interviews with older and old LGBT people – 24 people from different parts of the County came along to this workshop by invitation which has expanded the group now taking the project forward
  • a workshop to identify the questions that we want to ask during interviews and discuss some of the additional considerations – we called this workshop The Snailbeach Sessions as it took place at Snailbeach Village Hall – 18 of us gathered for that one
  • Ludlow Pride where 7 volunteers ran a stall and encouraged people to take part in engagement activities. About 200 people took the chance to pick up leaflets, chat and look at the information boards, with a dozen signing up for interviews
  • Oswestry Diversity day where 2 volunteers had a collection of Grains of SAND materials to hand out. Approx 80 people saw the stall and 20 actively engaged, asking questions and taking away information.
  • ‘Test’ interviews amongst members of the group from The Snailbeach Sessions to make sure the questions work, we know what we’re doing and we all feel confident
  • we have started outreach interviews with the people who have volunteered to date and these will continue
  • In the pipeline to continue the project :

People taking part in Grains of SAND events so far have said:

I feel enthusiastic and motivated …. I have lived in Shropshire for 5 years and this is the first time I feel that I am not the only gay in the village

It’s been a wonderful day

I have enjoyed it very much – nice group of people – a very worthwhile project

It’s good being with everybody – I think everybody is wonderful

So – if you see us out and about – come and say hello! We’re also working hard to try to ensure that this project can continue and we will be able to keep similar work going into 2019 and beyond. One way we’re looking at doing this is to link it up directly with our second project… keep reading!

EMBRACE a culture of inclusion – this project is funded by Comic Relief (Core Strengths) and Shropshire Partners in Care. It is about providing practical ways that providers of health and social care – and related service providers – can improve the way that they work so that they are more inclusive of older and old LGBT people.This involves them being aware of LGBT lives and experiences, and understanding how these might affect experiences – and providing safe and friendly spaces for older and old LGBT people.

EMBRACE will be a practical process which identifies the characteristics of different stages of inclusive practice. In the development stages, it will have a particular focus on the inclusion of older and old lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. We believe EMBRACE will have huge potential, in the future, to transfer to embrace inclusion for all – wherever they may be, and expand to legal concerns, financial issues and housing sectors.

SAND cannot develop EMBRACE alone and is in the process of identifying organisations to work with. After 5 years of plugging away it is rewarding now to find organisations approaching us, actively wanting to be involved and expressing excitement about our ideas for a more inclusive future.

We are nearing the stage where we can invite investment in the development of EMBRACE – so, watch this space!

Changing structures – still standing firm!

The big news is that we have taken a decision to change our structure from a Not for Profit Company Limited by Guarantee to a Community Interest Company (CIC). Once upon a time we took advice to stick with the least complex of structures and there was a notion that CICs may be a short-lived phenomena but that has been proven wrong and they are well recognised (much more so than the Company structure) as being not for profit – which is all important when approaching finders – especially in these tough times. The CIC structure is also more readily recognised by potential partners – so, here we go, on our next big adventure!

Meanwhile, our funding from Big Lottery (Grains of SAND Project), Comic Relief and SPIC (Business Plan development Project) means that we also have a cunning plan to be in the office on a more regular basis. It’s looking like Thursdays will be the day when we’ll be there. This is the first time we have ever had the capacity to make a regular commitment and we believe it will make all the difference to SAND and the plans in progress.

Last week – as part of our Grains of SAND – we took the train to Ludlow to meet up with NP of the Ludlow Fringe to chat about how SAND could be involved – particularly in the Ludlow Pride event and how we can help each other to outreach to LGBT people in South Shropshire – exciting plans afoot. So, it is all starting – next stop Oswestry and Telford.

With so much going on it is right and proper that our social media has come alive with one SAND volunteer totally on the case – check out twitter and Facebook to get (almost daily) updates on what’s happening! You may also like to take a little peak at our Youtube channel – we get everywhere!

Settling in for a busy year

Indulging in a little reflection and looking back on our blog this time last year, we have come a very long way and the path is coming ever clearer!

We started the year reporting back on our developing contacts with care providers and these have been quite fundamental to our progress. We have spent a busy year piloting training with Coverage Care Residential Care Providers, the Community Health Trust End of Life staff, Robert Jones Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital,  Shropshire Partners in Care and more recently, newly qualified GPs. And we have our eye on the ball in terms of domiciliary care providers, other help at home services, befriending schemes,  and more – including the legal sector! All this whilst making friends and keeping in touch with organisations like AgeUK, the Dementia Action Alliance and the Alzheimers Society. Continue reading “Settling in for a busy year”