It’s nearly the end of the year

…. and it’s been all go since we last blogged!

17th October was our big Spirit of SAND event and we couldn’t have been more proud. Over 40 people came along to share an afternoon of film, song, conversation, presentation and ideas. Amongst them were many service providers from different sectors as well as representation from our LGBT community. There is a whole load of information for us to collate  here’s a taste from when we asked everyone to share a WOW moment from the afternoon:

  • the importance of sharing experiences in the form of stories, so the issues come to life
  • the difference between acceptance (behind closed doors) and celebrating/embracing the difference between people – and the size of that impact
  • The Too Old to Remember song highlighted that everyone’s story should be celebrated no matter who they are and every relationship is beautiful!
  • The fear that LGBT people may have of open intimacy with a loved one
  • If individuals don’t feel safe/accepted – how many people are pretending every day?
  • Given the statistics we have seen today….8 or 9 of our service users are probably not living as themselves
  • It’s not about me. I ,may be comfortable but we need to make others comfortable living in their own skin
  • Saying “we don’t need to mention inclusivity – we’re ok” is actually making a choice to do and be the opposite

Continue reading “It’s nearly the end of the year”


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. Continue reading “Small tasks – big ideas”

Moving on Up

lampSAND is on the move – we have taken the decision to rent an office! Now that may sound like small fry but for us it is HUGE. Moving from kitchen-table-working to applied office-work is intended to help give SAND the much needed jump that it needs to move forwards. Some of the details are still a bit sketchy right now – we have an office lined up – nicely positioned in Shrewsbury Town Centre and a date to move in; we have plans for it to be a sort of drop-in space and a bit of a hub for LGBT activity but we are not entirely sure what that means yet.

A couple of the Our_castleSAND Action Group Members are under-writing the first year with their own money to make sure it happens and there are lots of ways that you can help – no matter where you are located. We get the keys in June and we will be sharing more information at our Building Our Own Castles event on 7th May.

How you can help

We are going to need furniture to create a comfortable space and we would love it if this was all donated so everything has its own story. If you have any of these going spare, or are willing to purchase them for SAND please let us know (we’ll cross them off as they are offered). We are not worried about things matching – we just want it all to be welcoming!2016-04-02 08.02.37

  • A table – approx 5ft x 3ft, or thereabouts (or two smaller tables that can be put together) – we’ll be using this as a desk and also as a meeting table
  • 2 wooden kitchen chairs
  • 1 office chair – this must go up and down!
  • 3 folding chairs
  • 2 tub chairs
  • 2 bookcases (we hope to house a small non-fiction LGBT library)
  • 1 small set of drawers (or set of small drawers!)
  • 1 colour laser-jet printer – preferably one of these 
  • 1 standard lamp
  • 1 desk lamp
  • 1 table lamp
  • 1 flipchart stand
  • 2 cushions
  • 1 two-drawer filing cabinet 
  • 1 rug – approx 5ft x 4ft, preferably forgiving – e.g. grey fleck, or similar (we have been offered one for £30 so there is an option for financial donation so we can purchase it)
  • 1 cupboard – to keep printer paper and toner in, possibly for printer to sit on top of, so a similar size to a 2-drawer filing cabinet
  • 1 coat stand
  • 1 umbrella stand

We have to pay a wodge up-front for the lease to be drawn up. This makes the first payment a bit top-heavy, to the tune of £360! We’d love any contributions to this as a one-off donation of £50 or more. Cheques made payable to Safe Ageing No Discrimination can be sent to SAND c/o 3 Mardol Gardens, Shrewsbury SY1 1PR. We have already had one cheque – huge thanks for that 🙂

That is a lot of money so – another way to help is to sign up to the SAND Well-Wishers scheme where we ask our friends and supporters to sign up to a monthly standing-order for £2 or £3 – the price of a coffee! You can do that by using this form: Well-Wishers Word Doc (or this pdf version: Well-Wishers pdf).

Shrewsbury_logo_hires_no_borderAnd that is not all. At a meeting on 18th April 2016 SAND voted to adopt the Shrewsbury Hub of the National Festival of LGBT History as a SAND project and take it forward to ensure some sort of festival in 2017. In 2016 there has been a great deal of overlap between the two as the volunteer organisers are pretty much the same and the aims and content of the festival align very well with SAND.  The Festival will still have its own website and bank account.

Meanwhile – catch up with what SAND has been up to by coming along on May 7th – we’ll be giving an update on our research – funded by Healthwatch Shropshire, plus some work we are doing to develop training packages. We are also submitting other funding applications and getting some good first-stage feedback so – fingers crossed!

With all this going on we want to make sure that we communicate as well as we can. Please sign up to our mailing list to keep in touch – you can do so here: SAND MailChimp mailing.

JournalAnd finally. Last year SAND was approached by the national Age UK organisation to contribute to a special issue of the academic journal Quality in Ageing and Older Adults which was going to focus specifically on LGBT people. We were asked to write a couple of film reviews and we chose to do this through a collective process of film viewing and group discussion. The journal is now out and about – and difficult to access on-line (here) but we are expecting a couple of copies to arrive in the post and we will make sure they go into the new library!

This Blog records what is happening at which point of SAND’s development.

Tardy festive wishes

2015-11-06 16.25.13We 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’.

Shrewsbury_logo_hires_no_borderWe 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 Allthenicegirlsfrom 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!

Well 1In 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.

Post Summer energy boost

Blimey it feels like far too long since the last blog – there are a couple of reasons for that – the first being that the team took a little break and didn’t meet in August, the second being that a key member went and got a full-time job so we have been tussling to find new ways of working which keep the interests of older and old LGBT people on everyone’s agenda – and we have got more and more ideas!day-nightmap

So – very practically, we have changed our meetings so we can accommodate our working and
can’t come in work time
– and non-working or can come in work time in equal measure. Our cunning plan is … Continue reading “Post Summer energy boost”

A little later than usual but just as busy

The time just flies by and suddenly it is 2 weeks since our Away Day and we haven’t blogged it yet!! So here goes.

Most of the SAND Action Group headed off to South Shropshire and the magical place that isWesthope Craft College Westhope College for our second ever away day. It is so important to grab this space when we can and invest a bit of our time and SAND’s money (not much, it is a remarkably reasonably priced venue) in proper reflection and planning.

We started the day with our own debrief following the Personal lives – Personal Care event, looking a what went well and what we could have done better. We were delighted with the number of people who turned up, the relaxed atmosphere, the levels of engagement amongst the people there, the way the creative presentation  worked (you can watch Clare Summerskill again here), the structure, variety of input and the stalls which made it feel like a very vibrant space. We were also very pleased about the number of people who volunteered on the day to help out in various roles. Continue reading “A little later than usual but just as busy”