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”


What a turn out!

The new office AGM 2016Our new meeting time and venue seemed to draw the crowds as we had more SAND Action Group members turn up on Wednesday at the SAND Office than we have had for a while and how lovely it was to see everyone – and to welcome our new Treasurer, Maria (in the middle in red)! So, lots of ‘new’ things going on – and we’ll get some pictures and rainbows up in there very soon.

When we’re a bit more settled we’ll identify a slot for a tea/coffee drop-in thingy and get the word out via our New Newsletter – so make sure you are signed up to receive it – click here: Lovely Newsletter.

Meanwhile, we are delighted to report that we have a couple of new Well-Wishers so come on, don’t be shy – you too can join the merry band of folk who give £2 or £3 per month to keep the SAND castles in development! Click here for the info: Well Wishers Form.

Our 2 major bits of work at the moment are:

  1. our research funded by Healthwatch – where we are talking to health care professionals about what they know about specific issues facing trans people and how they currently provide trans appropriate healthcare.
  2. the development and delivery of training to residential and domiciliary health care providers to raise awareness of older and old LGBT people.

In the background, we are also planning some conversation with AgeUK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin about their befriending service and what their volunteers can do to support older and old LGBT people.

As the sun shines with the start of Summer, so too are we feeling a burst of bright energy. You may recall that we have started identifying little volunteering jobs so, if you want to get involved without making a mega commitment then we are the ones for you.

Volunteer jobs for June:

  1. We need someone to do a bit of a trawl to identify magazines targeting older people in Shropshire. Once we know these we can include articles/editorials about SAND to try to find more older and old LGBT people. We need a list of magazines/newsletters with contact details – importantly WHO to contact and where they are.
  2. We want to start a little library of non-fiction LGBT books. We need someone to write to publishers and ask for donations of books.

The secret is to assume that we need you – please don’t leave it for someone else if you are interested 🙂

And – we are still after some bits and pieces for the office (in bold below) so if you can donate any of these then please do:

  • A table – approx 5ft x 3ft
  • 2 wooden kitchen chairs
  • 1 office chair 
  • 3 folding chairs
  • 1 tub chair
  • 2 bookcases 
  • 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
  • 2 cushions
  • 1 two-drawer filing cabinet 
  • 1 rug 
  • a 2-drawer filing cabinet 
  • 1 coat stand
  • 1 umbrella stand

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

SAND is in demand

This month’s meeting of the SAND Action Group over-ran by about 5 minutes – so not long, but it is the first time! And it was because we had a near full-house and so much to talk about!

Our research funded by Healthwatch Shropshire is now complete and the report is writtSAND_HW_Researchen so watch this space for the release! We are holding an event to talk about the research – Personal Lives – Personal Care is on Thursday 21st May in Shrewsbury, primarily for people working in health and social care – that is care homes, domiciliary care, CCG, hospitals, district nurses, GPs and associated roles, including: housing support workers, housing officers, solicitors – come  and join us – you can book here: SAND Dissemination Event. Information stalls have already been booked by Severnside Housing, Terrence Higgins Trust, CEDAR, The Vicarage Care Home, Royal Voluntary Service, Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin and we are delighted to have Terry Jones Solicitors as a sponsor for this event.  Continue reading “SAND is in demand”

One giant step

Here we go – heading heartily for exciting times in 2015.

Our slow move to Company registration is now on a trajectory – we just need to nail the business plan and financial forecast and we’ll be away. I imagine this is quite hard to believe after all this time, but it really does feel like the final straight (no pun intended). We have written and agreed our Articles which ensure we can continue to operate pretty much as we have been, with ownership and decision-making by the whole Action Group.

We have identified a Sector-savvy accountant to help produce the approved accounts we will need in 12 months and are looking into insurance providers, calling on those in the know for suggestions – it would appear that Social Enterprises are that little bit different (of course!)

The bank balance is inevitably looking a little low these days so we are going to have to applyRainbow_cake ourselves to income generation, fundraising and grant applications – preferably all in line with our Action Plan! In terms of income generation we provided some training for Shropshire Fire & Rescue which went down so well they have asked us back for more. We are also in conversation with some local solicitors and all this will become much clearer when we dive into the business plan stuff (we’ll try to add some cheer to the process – perhaps cake will help!

We do plan to set up a regular donations-type scheme but we are waiting until we have our Company details all sorted because we will have to change our bank account at this stage. Thanks to everyone who has made enquiries about this.

Fundraising – we have a couple of benefit nights up our sleeves which we need to work on – the coming month will be crucial if we’re going to get those sorted. We would like a reputation for fun as well as gravity, so these are really important to all the SAND Action Group members – they are a great opportunity for raising awareness as well as generating a bit of dosh.

As for grant applications – they don’t seem to be our best source of income but we are rarely down about it. We spent a good few days this month working out a cunning plan – but we’re not telling in case it doesn’t come off. If it does we’ll be shouting from the rooftops.

Table1Diary date alert – We will be running an event on 21st May (afternoon) specifically for providers of health and social care. Here we will be presenting the findings from the research funded by Healthwatch Shropshire. We are also planning ‘a special turn’ – watch this space 🙂 We will be setting up an Eventbrite page for people to sign up and we’ll send details around as soon as they are ready.

We are also following up on plans to do something around housing options for older and old LGBT people. Severnside Housing is planning an LGBT Drop-in event on 6th June (details to follow) for all age groups and there is some research afoot which we will know more about shortly. This fits well with our own plans to hold some sort of event about Housing options – although we feel we should nudge this along a bit and wait to see what the research reveals before rushing into anything.

Our communications with local solicitors is moving along – we have visited one practice and had some really positive conversations. These look like developing and we are looking forward to seeing what happens next. We are due to meet with a second practice in April. We’re being a bit hedgy right now because we need to have the conversations with them first – before plonking it on a blog!

Diary date alert: coming up in May is IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) on 17th when the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival will be hosting an afternoon book signing -2pm at the Two Fat Rascals in Shrewsbury’s Riverside Precinct with Peter Scott-Presland and his book Amiable Warriors tracking and celebrating the story of CHE – the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (apologies for the long sentence). Following this, at 8pm at The Hive will be a screening of the road movie: FagBug

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

You know when you press the gas pedal …?

Wow, it feels like we have lift off!

SAND is a perpetual growth machine at the moment with more excitement ahead so, whilst the last month saw our latest in a series of failed funding proposals we are not down – we eat too much cake to be down. We are buoyant!

We have completed our research for HealthWatch Shropshire and facilitated a very rewarding20150201_152218 dissemination event for everyone who took part – what a great afternoon we had down at the Two Fat Rascals Coffee House (if you haven’t tried it yet give it a whirl). Hot soup, scrummy chilli bread – and yes, cake kept us all going as we fed back the research findings to the participants who engaged in all the discussions and had a great time to boot – at least that’s what they said! The draft final report has now been written and will be sent off to HealthWatch Shropshire – once it comes back with a thumbs up then we’ll be able to share the key points and our plan for ‘what’s next’.

If that’s not exciting enough, we are in the final stages of becoming a Company-proper (having said that it probably won’t be until after next month’s blog so expect to read that again). This is a major move for us as it confirms us as a social enterprise (that’s a bit scary) on some sort of trajectory. Once that’s all done and dusted we’ll be scrutinising our Action Plan to identify all the income earning opportunities so don’t be shy if you think of anything – chuck it in the  pot.

Our failure to get through to the second round of our latest bid we are, as mentioned, undaunted and are forging ahead with ideas – it’s all a but hush hush at the moment because we are at such early stages but there are 2 things happening and we are ‘in talks’!

LOLSAND folk continue to be out and about, up and down the country doing stuff and talking to people – check that particular journey here – click. We are also supporting a new initiative to encourage old lesbians – over the age of 70 (or thereabouts) to grab a coffee and enjoy a good quality discussion. Click here to see the poster.

We have sniffs (i.e. small – perhaps increasing)  interest in helping out with the development of some sort of network of practitioners – that is people all over the place who are working on similar stuff to us. It feels really important to have this something like this – to avoid duplication, support and encourage each other, share exciting stories and all that jazz. As with everything these days it is the division of labour to make it happen which is the biggest question mark over its future.

Perhaps most exciting of all are the plans up our sleeves for an array of different events in 2015 – now, it feels a bit scary to mention them so early on and they all come with a caveat along the lines of ‘let’s wait a little while to see what happens’ but it was logged here first:

  • Some sort of event for LGBT people around housing options
  • Maybe something a bit digital (is that too cryptic?)
  • An event for service providers to talk about SAND’s work
  • Our second 1970’s fundraising disco in November – following last year’s rip-roaring success
  • A little idea to have another ‘social’ in July to keep people grooving until November

We are also currently doing a bit of research into LGBT aware solicitors practices in Shropshire – watch this space – it is already looking very interesting and prompted some great conversations at today’s meeting.

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

In with a bang

Welcome to 2015 and the SAND Action Group has started as it means to go on. A fair bit of today’s meeting was taken up with discussion about an event we are planning for May when we will invite health and social care service providers to hear our findings from the HealthWatch research. We ran through a proposed presentation for the event so the Group could agree the bare bones and style of the content – this will now be worked up with quotes and stories from the older and old LGBT people we have been talking to.

Of course, all this will take place AFTER we bring together all those we have interviewed to hear2014-11-11 15.33.54 what we have found and share their own experiences – with the compulsory cake (rarely has so much cake been mentioned in a blog!) We have our friends at the Two Fat Rascals Coffee Shop to thank for providing our feedback venue for this one and are very much looking forward to it.

We have a bit of our HealthWatch budget left to pay for these events and may top it up a little bit to make sure they are both good occasions for all concerned – quality is the name of the game.

Talking of the Two Fat Rascals, we are also supporting a new initiative – welcoming lesbian women over the age of 70 to go in and grab a coffee and a chat every Thursday in March & April between 2 and 4pm. Of course, you can go in any other time too – it’s just you might bump into some of your peers in this slot 🙂

Another new thing on the horizon is our quest to find Shropshire’s LGBT-friendly solicitors. We are visiting websites, looking for any sign at all, and running our own test case locally. We are not suggesting for a second that any of them are unfriendly – but how do we know that they have the faintest idea about the sort of issues that affect older and old LGBT people?  It’s a big question and we’re on it so watch this space.

In our preparations for today’s meeting we had another look at our well-thumbed action plan and were a little surprised to see that we had nothing on this one specifically about older and old LGBT people and housing. Our housing whizz has had to miss the last few meetings and the rest of us took our eye off the ball so we are now gathering this up and thinking about how to fill the gap. This might mean an event at some point in 2015, to look at different housing options for later life – you never know, it will all become clear as we get closer to it and, as usual, we’ll make a note here.

Jane Traies
Jane Traies

And, a heads-up to finish up with:

Jane Traies who spoke so fabulously at our launch event in the Summer will be on Women’s Hour next week talking about her research into old lesbians so keep an ear out for that.


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

Summer activity

August holidays didn’t deter the Action Group from gathering in good numbers for our monthly meeting. This regular meeting – every month on the same day, at the same time for 2.5 hours really seems to work to keep things flowing and interest high.

We are achieving a nice balance of business – keeping SAND going in a practical sense; fun – with ideas for fundraising and networking; and research & delivery with presentations proving quite popular.

Business: we have finally decided on a ‘business model’ to suit SAND designs to operate as a Social Enterprise. We shall be registering as a Company Limited by Guarantee with an asset lock. We have also submitted a couple of small funding bids – we are still not interested in sending in anything too large as it feels like this would sway the variety and flexible work we are currently doing and would drive us down a singular route. We are also now welcoming donations from supportive individuals – big thanks to all those who have contributed so far. In this way, we are keeping vibrant, creative and visionary. Where to go for funding inevitably introduces the question of ethics – who do we not want money from and how do we agree? That is one of the questions we’ll be pursuing at our Action Group Away Day in November.

Fun: ideas include Open Gardens; Progressive Dinners and yes – the cheesy 70s fundraising disco is back on the agenda so put 29th November 2014 in your diaries for a night out in Shrewsbury! We also have some ideas about trips out of County to meet others working in similar fields.

SAND Launch
SAND Launch presentation

Research & delivery: We are busy with the HealthWatch funded research with LGBT people over the age of 50. We are now doing face-to-face interviews over a cup of tea – a much improved approach compared with an online survey. The information we are getting is rich and fascinating. We have about 20 people so far engaged and others in Shropshire are welcome to join in – please contact us: lgbtsand[@] (remove the brackets in the middle!). We are also delivering presentations/facilitating discussion with different groups – our next will be the entire staff team in a residential care home – we are doing 2 sessions so we can talk to them all in shifts and then we are off to Newcastle On Tyne where we have been invited to run a workshop at a National Conference. Nb. We need to charge a small amount to keep SAND afloat, so presentations are now £100 a pop.

As always – plenty to talk and about and plenty to do 🙂

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

A growing agenda

We put the SAND presentation centre stage at last week’s SAND Action Group meeting. It felt important for the whole group to see it and have an opportunity to comment and input – plus one of them was due to deliver it yesterday to social work students and nurses so it was good to revisit it. It got a very good reception – members of the Action Group felt it very much reflected the conversations we have been having and has a powerful message – this is good as we will be using at the centrepiece of our launch on July 5th. We are aware that the contents of the presentation will develop as we deliver it more and get reactions from different audiences.

During the meeting, the presentation prompted lots of discussion and we started to explore just how wide an issue all of this is. We have tended to focus on the experiences of older LGBT people as they access health and social care – now we are talking about associated issues in the health and social care sector – for example people are talking about:

  • how they feel comfortable being ‘out’ but other family members are not comfortable at all – this has implications for how much older parents talk about their (grown up) LGBT children; how ‘out’ their children can be when visiting them in care settings where other residents are around, whether they visit with partners and their own families, what they say and how they say it
  • the sensitivity and understanding of care home staff to these situations and how they deal with issues arising for residents following visits from openly LGBT children
  • the role of friends – we heard stories of LGBT people being in the closet in residential care settings and asking friends to be careful not to be obviously out – and, in turn – not to out them. At its extreme just such a request can result in friends ceasing to visit.

The discussions grow and grow as the complexities of the SAND world are slowly coming to light. All of this is relevant and needs managing so that it can be properly researched and addressed if we stand any chance of change.

Talking of research, we heard feedback from the pilot survey we have recently undertaken supported by Healthwatch Shropshire Research Grant funding and are consequently thinking about taking a different approach to this work to favour qualitative discussion – we’re still working on it.

We are planning a launch event for SAND – specifically inviting our LGBT community and straight allies – details are on the website, facebook & twitter and bookings can be made here: SAND Launch

We are focusing on getting the SAND name out there at the moment, telling people about what we are doing and building a groundswell. We have got a bit of money for promotional materials which will help so we will have things to give to people who come to presentations and banners to give SAND some presence.

The issues that SAND is working on seem to resonate with so many people.

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

Out and about

The dynamism of SAND comes from its ability to be flexible, responsive, broad-thinking and creative. We are still musing about the best structure for SAND to keep all these positives intact whilst giving us a business model to ensure the work progresses and survives. This looks increasingly like something in the Social Enterprise world so this is what we are focusing on. There still doesn’t seem to be any particular rush – in fact it is interesting to take the pressure off and watch the organic development, but we do need to collect the information and have the ideas and understanding of what we might need to do to make it happen when the time comes.

More people are slowly getting involved and this gentle ‘boil’ seem to really work in terms of buy-in. A local network is organising some fundraising (and perhaps more importantly awareness/knowledge raising) events which, it is hoped will involve 20-30 people; we are planning a ‘launch’ event in July for the local LGBT community, friends and allies which we hope will attract 50-ish people.

Of course, the SAND HealthWatch-funded research is about to get underway – we have designed and printed some publicity and will initially be piloting the questions with a small group. Easter has arrived slap bang in the middle of the design/pilot so we’ll work with the timescale to get the best return we can once we get the publicity out and about.

This research is very much a project – just one aspect of SAND’s work and – as it is the only bit that is funded – we are aware that we need to keep an eye on the ball to ensure a balance is kept. We have just developed a ‘volunteer hours log’ so we can capture all the time that is given to SAND in addition to the funded work – we started the log at the beginning of the financial year to keep it in line with accounts for future funding bids.

We are delighted by the uptake of – and interest in – the SAND presentation which is coming from different quarters including Universities and Solicitors for the Elderly. This feels like a great step forward and we are looking forward to developing it further. This must become an income stream for SAND so we do need to charge – but only £50 a pop and, if people really can’t afford that we could perhaps go lower or talk about in-kind exchange.

Publicity is a big thing and we are working hard on ‘branding’ which might sound a bit private sector but we want people to recognise SAND at a glance – at some point in the future we may have some sort of SAND-stamp so let’s start that thinking now and have a strong image. It looks like we have secured a bit of money for banners and promotional material so the work starts here! As part of that we are thinking about having some representation at the Shrewsbury Carnival – Out and Proud, being seen – all that …. at the moment the only thing in the way of that is capacity and this is a classic case of asking others to carry a banner – we’ll see if we manage that one.

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