We Matter Too
4 June 2019 | North West England
How older members of the LGBT community support each other.
The North Midlands LGBT Older People’s Group, nicknamed OLGBT, brings together members of the LGBT community and helps them avoid isolation as they grow older.
Members face many of the same challenges as other older people, with additional issues of isolation if they do not have families or children.
OLGBT meets monthly, holds workshops and arranges events to keep people active and engaged like breadmaking workshops.
Maurice Greenham, 77, founder member and chair of the group, explained: “Loneliness can really be a real problem, I see that especially for some who have lost their partners. Often there is no family to fall back on. As a LGBT person you are less likely to have a supportive family or children. So yes, it can be hard.
“At the same time you can’t generalise, as some of our members who once married and have children. But whatever your situation we are like a family here now when we get together.”
The group's current project of workshops and outings are funded by People's Health Trust using money raised through The Health Lottery in the West Midlands.
OLGBT holds regular creative classes in anything from ceramics to breadmaking. Specialist speakers come in to address issues like health and equality.
“The classes are led by professionals but the participants decided what they want to do and where they want to go,” explained Maurice. “We recently went to see the Terracotta Army in Liverpool, so we organised tickets and the train there. It was brilliant, so much fun.
“The group gives people a chance to meet others and make new friends and exchange stories in a warm, supportive and safe environment. It is open to all ages, we don’t want to discriminate so as long as you are over 18. But yes we are an older crowd, although some have younger partners hence why we are inclusive. Our youngest member is in their early 30s while the eldest is 91 years old.”
Members of the group recently learned one of their number had passed away with no family, they were determined to give him a proper send off. Fearing there would be no mourners at his funeral, they turned out in force to offer their final respects.
“We could not let him be buried without anyone there so we put the information out to the members and WhatsApp groups and made sure as many of us as possible made it to his funeral,” said Maurice. “That is what it’s all about, isn’t it, knowing that there are people out there for you?”