London to host the ‘UK’s first’ LGBTQ+ retirement home
The UK’s first LGBTQ+ Retirement Community is expecting to inhabit residents from the summer months of 2021. Tonic Housing, a community-led non-profit organisation, has secured a 5.7 million pound loan from, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, which will be used to buy apartments in the London borough of Lambeth, where almost 6% of residents identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual – the highest percentage in England. This residential development is one of the first of its kind and is said to be the UK’s first retirement community targeted solely to elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The village, located in Bankhouse, Vauxhall, is being implemented within an existing assisted living development run by One Housing. It provides a space in which elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community may retire in their later years, right in the heart of the capital. The apartments were purchased by Tonic Housing using a £5.7m loan and is set to consist of 19 flats in total, overlooking the River Thames.
The idea is similar to ones seen in the US, where there are similar developments aimed at accommodating members of the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, Europe has seen multiple retirement housing developments with the same purpose. Europe's first solely gay retirement housing, the Regnbagen or Rainbow apartments, opened in Stockholm in 2013. In 2012, Berlin became home to 24 flats run by the Gay Counselling Centre with 60% of places reserved for gay men.
Tonic Housing has pledged to create inclusive LGBTQ+ affirming retirement communities in which residents feel a sense of support and enjoyment in their later life. The organisation was established in 2014 with the aim to address issues of isolation and loneliness in elderly members of the LGBT+ community. they grow older.
This is a huge step for LGBTQ+ rights in the UK. It is the first of its kind, offering elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community the opportunity to live in a safe and accepting environment in their later years. The aim to address issues of isolation and loneliness in elderly members of the LGBT+QQ community.
This is a huge step for LGBTQ+ rights in the UK. It is the first of its kind, offering elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community the opportunity to live in a safe and accepting environment in their later years.
CEO of Tonic Housing Anna Kear stated that the services offered to residents are set to be "genuinely aimed at the needs and desires of LGBTQ+ people." Tonic Housing have claimed that the development will go beyond being “LGBTQ+ friendly,” instead providing services which will be “actively affirming of the lives, histories, needs and desires of LGBTQ+ people.”
They state that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it another pandemic in itself; loneliness- especially within older generations, many of whom are facing isolation alone due to lockdown restrictions and sheltering. LGBTQ+ individuals are statistically more likely to face loneliness and isolation, with a study by the LGBT Foundation revealing that 42% of LGBTQ+ individuals wanted mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Appropriate retirement accommodation for elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community is clearly a very important issue that needs to be addressed. The non-profit Equal Rights Center found that in 46% of cases, gay couples reported discrimination when seeking housing across ten US states.
This development is a step in the right direction which highlights the growing market in which a generation of LGBTQ+ individuals feel they should not have to suffer from or hide away due to the way in which they identify. Unfortunately, this sort of care is few and far between. The Manchester-based LGBTQ+ Foundation conducted a report and housing survey in which it revealed that 74% of responders want a home for their old age which is aimed at accommodating the community and delivered by an LGBTQ+-specific provider.
Many elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community lived through a time of discrimination, inequality and hate towards their community, and despite huge progress, these themes are still present in society today. The recent National LGBT Survey conducted by the UK Government found that some elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community felt fearful of being open about being LGBT+ in care home environments.
Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn said: “Londoners deserve to enjoy their later years surrounded by a supportive community.”