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East Lancashire scheme to help older LGBT people is nominated for award
A GROUNDBREAKING project for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in East Lancashire has been nominated for a national award.
Older and Out, a scheme started last year by Age Concern, is one of three groups in with a chance of winning the community organisation accolade at the National Diversity Awards.
The project was set up after the charity received £328,119 from the Big Lottery Fund last September to help the estimated 12,000 older LGBT people in Lancashire who have had to cope with stigma and criminalisation for their sexuality.
Project manager Drew Dewing-Drake has been helping 12 East Lancs people, putting on fun activities, a buddying service and offering emotional support as well as providing perception changing classes in care homes.
Drew, whose project now has 88 service users across the county, hopes to roll out the first dedicated social groups for older LGBT people in Blackburn and Burnley in the next few years.
He said: “I’m delighted the project was nominated because it shines a spotlight on a community that is still very much hidden because older people are still frightened of coming out due to their past.
“Our outreach and training work has had great successes by giving people voices and also educating non-LGBT people on issues they perhaps didn’t realise could affect someone’s wellbeing.
“Although our service users come from a time when being LGBT could have landed them in prison or seen them killed in some places and Burnley we still have persistent issues.
“We have no ethnic minorities involved in our project which is a false indicator as LGBT people exist in these communities too.”
The award ceremony takes place in Leeds on September 20.
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