Older Voices Kildare is a Social Inclusion Initiative, and as such we are committed to trying to include all older people in Kildare.
Irish research on older LGBT people shows that 40% are not out to their healthcare providers due to fear of discrimination or lack of understanding and acceptance. International research follows a similar trend. Isolation and loneliness are higher among older LGBT people as many do not have a family support network similar to married heterosexual older people with children and extended family.
On 17th October a number of people from County Kildare undertook the LGBT Ireland Older Persons Champions Programme. This excellent training provided valuable insights into the extra challenges facing older LGBT people as they age. For many in this generation, they grew up carrying the label of a criminal, and bore a heavy burden of shame and stigma from Church and society. The research shows this legacy is a difficult one to leave behind although Ireland has changed significantly.
An outcome of the training is that County Kildare has six new champions from a variety of settings including the health care provision sector, mental health provision, An Garda Síochána and Older Voices Kildare. We have come together to look at ways we can make Kildare feel safer for people to identify as LGBT if they wish to, in all of our respective settings. We are very open to hearing from anyone in that group who could offer suggestions or experiences to inform our work as champions and ensure the actions we have planned are the most beneficial to you.
Meet the Champions
“It’s always been the aim of Older Voices Kildare to include all older people, recognising the diversity that is concealed in the label “old”. My hope as a Champion is to create a safe space for older people who wish to identify as LGBTQ to do so without fear of judgement. There is nothing so fundamental to our identity as who we love, and sadly, the acknowledgement of this has not always been afforded to LGBTQ people in Ireland particularly those of previous generations. Growing older can be difficult for many of us, the Champions training highlighted the ways in which, for older LGBTQ people these challenges can be exacerbated. It is my aim, working in partnership with the other champions, to create the space for openness and to encourage and support other services to look at their service with a view to making them more welcoming to older LGBTQ people.”
“After attending a webinar on championing older LGBTQI+ people, I was amazed at how much I did not know about the struggles faced by older members of the LGBTQI+ community. It is an unfortunate inevitability that we will all face challenges as we age, challenges regarding our medical and social care needs. These challenges are multiplied for older LGBTQI+ people. Whether they have already come out or have not yet reached the stage where they are ready to make this step.
I believe in an inclusive society, and am passionate about doing whatever I can to eliminate barriers to happiness and self-fulfilment faced by all older people. As an LGBTQI champion, I will promote the creation of a safe and inclusive society through volunteering as a befriender and also through all aspects of my active community life.”
“I completed the LGBT Champions training as a volunteer with Older Voices but see that its application will not be limited to my work with them. The training created a greater awareness within me of the struggles that an LGBT older person may face. Issues that all people as they grow older (myself included) face can be made far more complex and difficult to negotiate when having to consider the reactions, prejudices and ignorance of others. It is my hope and intention that I will play my part in generating greater awareness, breaking down barriers and helping to lend a listening ear and support within Co Kildare to ensure that members of the LGBT older community are treated with respect and dignity.”
“Through my work with Older Voices Kildare I facilitate part of our volunteer training to be LGBTQI+ aware and inclusive. I have become even more aware personally through the champion programme of just how much more I can do. I strive in my personal life and my working life to be a safe person that anyone can come to and talk to and I aim to be, as an LGBTQI+ champion, a face that people recognise as being just that. I fully believe that every one has a right to be who they are, love who they are and have all of the support, understanding and equal right to do that. As a champion I will strive to ensure I carry that message both personally and professionally.”
“I lived in Brighton, England , dubbed “the gay city of the west”, for many years. A large proportion of the residents of Brighton accepted the gay community as normal human beings to be respected. My children and myself are amongst that community By becoming a LGBT champion I hope to pass on that acceptance to older people , the public through Older Voices Kildare with whom I work. I have been accepted by gay people as a friend so would like to return the compliment through my work and daily living. Also by visual means to show my support for LGBT older people.“
Garda Gary Cogan
“I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Older Voices on the LBGTQ + Champions training program. Community Policing in Naas already works with Older Voices on their other initiatives. Working with them here to support older LBGTQ people in County Kildare is really important. There are times in everyones lives when they need a little help and Community Gardai want to be able to offer that support.”