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Age UK Sunderland is inspiring older LGBT+ residents to make Meaningful Connections to end loneliness and isolation

Published on 18 July 2019 01:58 PM

Age UK Sunderland has partnered with Sunderland Pride Group to inspire members of the older LGBT+ community to make meaningful connections across the City. The partnership aims to reduce loneliness, promote community belonging and encourage positive ageing for people who identify as LGBT+ and are aged 50+ in Sunderland.


Tracy Collins, Director of Age UK Sunderland

The Meaningful Connections service, which launched in April this year, offers access to one to one support, social group activities in safe and inclusive space and a range of volunteering opportunities. A LGBT+ group and a Women’s group currently runs fortnightly on alternative Mondays 2pm-4pm. Working closely with Sunderland Pride the aim is to ensure older LGBT+ people are also more involved in the  annual celebration of the LGBT+ community.

 With Sunderland being ranked as the 12th most at risk local authority in England for loneliness for people aged 65+, the partnership comes as part of Age UK Sunderland’s wider operation to tackle the high levels of loneliness across the city. The charity was successful in securing a share of the £11.5 million Building Connections fund, offered by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport, the Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation, to tackle loneliness across England. The funding is the first ever Government fund dedicated to reducing loneliness in England.

The inclusion of older people who identify as LGBT+ is crucial as they have lived through much less tolerable times, where they were criminalised, medicalised and ostracized for their identities. Social isolation, loneliness, and a lack of meaningful connections in later life are often resulting consequences for members of the LGBT+ community, with limited support available locally to encourage community belonging and address needs associated with ageing.

Tracy Collins, Director of Age UK Sunderland quoted “Our vision is to end loneliness for older people across the city, including for the most marginalised and hard to reach communities. Older LGBT+ people are at a much higher risk of experiencing loneliness in later life, much less likely to access services, and much more likely to have concerns about growing older compared with the heterosexual population.

There are distinct support needs for the LGBT+ older population, often not addressed through mainstream services. As such Meaningful connections will work at a grass root level to empower people to establish and maintain safe inclusive spaces for older LGBT+ whilst also encouraging access to mainstream activities and advice and information to overcome adversity, promote positive ageing, and make meaningful connections.”

To find out more about the Meaningful connections service contact Linda Ohlson at Age UK Sunderland on 0191 514 8322, or email at