Sage - older LGBT+ support Social Events, Volunteering, and Training

Helping to promote better ageing for members of the older adult LGBTQ+ community.

Sage is a Time-To-Shine funded project managed by MESMAC Leeds and AGE UK helping to support older adults in the LGBTQ+ community who are 50+ years old and living anywhere in Yorkshire, though the majority of members are from the Leeds area.  Since its inception six years ago Sage has undertaken advocacy and networking on behalf of the older LGBTQ+ community, organised a variety of events to help combat loneliness and isolation for its members, provided opportunities to give back to the community through volunteering with Sage and for personal growth through focused training opportunities. 

While the Coronavirus has affected the way we meet up we are pleased to confirm that, through the energy and commitment of the members and the Community Development Workers involved in Sage we still meet online once a week on Tuesdays, which is even more frequently than before the Coronavirus affected us all! Want to know more? Read on:

Advocacy 

Sage helps both the members of the LGBTQ+ community and those in the wider society to better understand the broader challenges of growing old in modern Britain as well as highlighting those specific issues that relate to members of the LGBTQ+ communities. These might be issues relating to being LGBTQ+ in a care home or visiting a partner there, the loss of a partner, housing, inheritance or more pressing needs relating to wellbeing such as issues of access to heating, lighting, transport as well as nutrition and health in general. Sage can represent older LGBTQ+ communities with local authorities in relation to broader issues of ageing better, access, developing older-person friendly services and supporting Leeds to be recognised as one of the best places in the UK to grow old.

Networking

Sage strives to work closely with other agencies sharing our support for older adults in LGBTQ+ communities.

We have developed links with Friends of Dorothy including taking part in their 2020 Silver Pride event, the first ever LGBTQ+ older adult themed extravaganza which covered a weekend of events on a wide range of topics and formats.

Sage works with Lippy People, a video story telling charitable trust who supported the making of several powerful video stories of Sage members clustered around the theme of loss. These video stories have become key elements of advocacy for issues surrounding loneliness and isolation in the LGBTQ+ community as well as an opportunity for individuals to come to terms with their loss and in some case as a legacy for members of their family.


Drop in sessions or online calls

Even with the challenges thrown up at us as a result of the Coronavirus, Sage still provides a weekly opportunity to socialise. Before COVID-19 became a part of our lives, Sage drop-in sessions took place on the first Thursday and the third Saturday of every month at the MESMAC main meeting room in Blayds Yard, Leeds between 12.30pm and 4pm. Given the added pressure on everyone during the time of the Coronavirus and the palpable increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation suffered by its members, a weekly zoom call was established on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 2pm. For those members who could not connect because of a lack of equipment or knowledge about how to connect, tablets have been made available with training on how to use them. Any changes in schedule or a change back to face-to-face drop-in meetings will be announced on this website or on Sage’s twitter account and facebook pages (see below for details of these).

Occasional outings

Sage puts together occasional outings to develop a sense of shared experience and to combat isolation and loneliness. These are dependent on funds and issues with access and availability.

Opportunities to learn new skills

Sage firmly believes that old dogs can learn new tricks! Sage has teamed up with The Ministry of Food in the Kirkgate Market in Leeds for courses on how to prepare food from scratch, understand better nutrition and food hygiene and shop cost effectively. These sessions, though smaller in number, are going to be continuing in a socially distanced way even during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Opportunities for sports and wellbeing

Sage is now in negotiation with sports and wellbeing providers for opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to further socialise by taking part in events that combine combating loneliness and isolation with an increase in overall health and wellbeing. Watch this space for further updates.


Sage is run on a day to day basis by two part-time Community Development Workers, Tracy and Keith. This means that there are several opportunities for volunteering with Sage. Responsibilities might cover:

  • Promoting the Sage Project in events or informally through your networks.
  • Helping support or running Sage’s advisory group, helping to steer the direction of the project.
  • Becoming a community speaker or panel member in larger LGBTQ+ events.
  • Or just being a caring person and assisting in supporting the Sage group as a whole.

Sage occasionally runs training sessions or one to one skills enhancement opportunities, such as the use of tablets, joining online group calls, research LGBTQ+ history or other topics. Sage’s cooperation with the Ministry of Food is also included as a training opportunity.


Want to know more or to contact us?

You can email Tracy or Keith via their email addresses, which are t.lenihan@mesmac.co.uk and k.hargreaves@mesmac.co.uk or visit us on twitter at @LGBTSage or on facebook (friend request Sage MESMAC or like our page Sage Project at Age UK Leeds and Yorkshire MESMAC). Should you wish to write to us please do at Sage, Yorkshire MESMAC, 22-23 Blayds Yard, Leeds, LS1 4AD. You can also call us via 0113 244 4209.

Yorkshire MESMAC and Sage offer LGBT+ awareness training to organisations that work with older people. Please contact r.ellingham@mesmac.co.uk for further advice.