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A matter of respect

Dr Andy King.Dr Andy King has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a project that will help older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people receive equal access to services and be treated with respect. The project, called Putting Policy into Practice (PPIP), builds on previous work that explored the lives of LGBT adults over the age of 50 in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The earlier research showed that the issues faced by the older LGBT community range from the large, such as little provision existing for older same-sex couples in nursing or residential care; to the smaller – for example, there is little or no representation of older same-sex couples or transgender people in posters or literature in doctor's surgeries.

Andy, a senior lecturer in the School of Social Science, said the aim of the new project was "...not to produce yet more research findings that have no effects, but to empower those who can directly influence policy and practice and have a real, positive impact on the lives of the older LGBT community in Tower Hamlets and further afield."

He added: "With an aging population and recent changes in equality laws, it's important that all older people are treated with dignity and respect, and with equal access to services. Through talking to those who are, and will be, using the services, as well as those providing them, we can build a picture of what exists and what needs to be done. What was very heartening was, even though some service providers realised that they didn't have things right yet, there was a real willingness to change."

Andy is leading the research alongside Dr Ann Cronin from University of Surrey in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Borough, local LGBT groups and other partner organisations, including the NHS and other service providers.

At the end of the project the research and its impact will be shared at a showcase conference with the hope that other councils, NHS trusts and service providers around the UK will be able to adapt and adopt the policies for older LGBT people in their own areas.

The project is funded by the ESRC (£30,000).