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!

Did you spot the sunshine?

It’s been a long time coming and how lovely it was. In fact it has been so warm we didn’t need the heating on for our April meeting on Thursday. We’re running a bit later in the month than usual due to availability which, of course, meant a full – and very interesting agenda. Continue reading “Did you spot the sunshine?”

Shifting SAND – in a good way!

flyer-picBefore we start this month’s blog – don’t miss our November Fundraiser – always a good night. This year we’re having A Night at the Races – only £5 to get in if you reserve or buy your ticket in advance, £7 on the door. It is bound to be a great night.
You can reserve a ticket on Eventbrite here: Race Night

……. is shifting SAND usually an uncertain thing? It just seemed fitting to use that as a header when we find ourselves in a time of cautiously exciting forward motion! Continue reading “Shifting SAND – in a good way!”

Time for some reflection

Today’s meeting was a healthy mix of moving forwards and looking back on what we have achieved so far. SAND has an Action Plan which was developed in the Summer of 2013 and we used to revisit this at every meeting – using it as a sort of ‘guiding agenda’. Ultimately that didn’t feel very inspiring as the nature of an Action Plan necessarily means there is a whole load of stuff which you haven’t done yet – hmmm, a tad depressing.

Once we moved to monthly meetings – short and productive, we put the Action Plan to one side and enjoyed more collective discussion during our precious time together.

This morning was time to see how we are getting on. We last looked at the Action Plan in October 2013 so, prior to today one of us got it out and went through it, adding a separate column for everything we have achieved so far – WOW, what a buzz! We then used half an hour of the meeting to pat ourselves on the back and add things that had been accidentally missed off!

Our website replicates the Action Plan to some extent and we’ll update that over the next week or so to capture all this stuff (so take a browse through the pages sometime soon). The process of a bit of reflection is very important for everybody in the group to see just what progress has been made and how we have chopped and changed a little to follow particular preferences – or just things that made sense at the time. It also helps to bring people up to date who have only just become part of the group and as our brand new Treasurer was with us it was perfect timing!

Soon we will have a go at planning for the next 12 months and see how we get on – doing it in 2 stages like this feels more manageable and fun than trying to do the whole lot in one go!

We are also moving along nicely on various jobs – we now have a Paypal account with the next move to put a button on the website and then work out how this and our Golden Giving site complement each other. We also have some ideas about Donation Envelopes – we got some samples from an online supplier but these are just too expensive for where we are right now so we reckon we can produce our own very cheaply – just to give out at our own events with invited audiences – anything more and we’d need to be looking into the laws around licensing. We are looking into Sponsorship as well, and what people might be getting for their money.

At this stage, it would really help to galvanise more people (beyond the action group) if we could start some sort of project sometime soon and we need resources to do that. Also, now that we have the responses collated from the pilot survey with housing & care managers we are keen to start building on it.

Last but not least we are now starting to plot a couple of launch events with different audiences in mind so yes, 2014 looks busy already!

We feel like a really high capacity group with everyone playing to their strengths. Seven out of nine of the Action Group members have been there since the very start and this continuity is fantastically helpful. People enjoy the meetings and don’t feel like they have a whole lot to do in-between times – and what they do is relevant to their own work and/or of particular interest to them.

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