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Scotland Gets Its First Befriending Project for LGBT Older People

12 August 2010

The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Edinburgh has just set up LGBT Age, a new service aimed specifically at older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Edinburgh and the Lothians. There is currently no other LGBT-specific befriending project for older people in Scotland.

Shirley-Anne Somerville SNP MSP for Lothians welcomed news of LGBT Age, saying, “I’m delighted at the launch of this new project aimed specifically at over 50s which I believe will provide much-needed support for a group that can sometimes become isolated and feel left behind.”

Research has found that older LGBT people have significantly diminished support networks compared to the general older population. They are more likely to live alone and be single, and are less likely to have children or family to call on in times of need. According to one older gay man, “due to my mobility problems, I had to move into sheltered housing. I don’t have much contact with the other tenants. I’ve been to tea and chat once but it was all old ladies, and I didn’t have anything in common with them. I’m not sure they know what gay means, if it’s not men who wear lipstick with dyed hair. They don’t think I am anything because I am disabled. They don’t know that I am gay. I don’t have anything to do with them because they could possibly be very rejecting.”

The new befriending service is currently looking for volunteers and referrals across Edinburgh and the Lothians. Anyone interested in finding out more about LGBT Age should contact Garry McGregor on 0131 652 3282 or garry@lgbthealth.org.uk.

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For more information on this article, contact Liz Watson on 0131 261 8799, or email admin@befriending.co.uk.