Silver Rainbows started in 2016 as a Brightlife-supported Body Positive project to tackle social isolation for older LGBT+ people in Cheshire West. The aim was to create a peer support network that would meet virtually and in person to share experiences and support one another.
The project also created a number of new social opportunities including the creation of Proud Marys, Cheshire’s LGBT+ choir, a regular Tea and Tattle Group and walking group Silver Strollers.
Following consultation with the Silver Rainbows Network the Heritage Project was developed to recognise the contribution of the LGBT+ communities to the history and heritage of Cheshire. In collaboration with Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Body Positive gained funding to create a permanent LGBT+ archive for Cheshire.
From Prejudice to Pride the heritage project, collects memories, artifacts, oral histories and gathers historical documents together to highlight the broad history of LGBT+ people from Cheshire’s past. The project feature exhibitions touring through the County during LGBT+ History Month each February.
Silver Rainbows' existence and digital presence has been a big security blanket, keeping us all connected with the threads of its weave, and reminding us that we do all matter.
Tea and Tattle has been particularly important to us… knowing we have a lifeline is a major boost. Seeing and speaking to friends regularly has real benefits to us all. Long may it last.
To reduced social isolation for older LGBT+ people.
Increase the visibility and voices of older LGBT+ people and their history.
Improve health and social care services through training and consultation.
Make an impact on the health inequalities that exist for LGBT+ people.
Why are we needed?
LGBT+ older people are twice as likely to be single than their straight peers.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+ people 2 1/2 times more likely to live alone due to social isolation and prejudice.
4 1/2 times more likely to have no adult children to call upon in times of need.
Significantly more likely to have damaging mental health issues due to significant health inequalities for LGBT+ older people.
Making a real difference
As the project progressed, it became increasingly clear that older people’s health and social care organisations were not recognising the needs of older LGBT+ people in their service delivery.
Silver Rainbows developed its training programme to offer a way for organisations to train their staff and make changes to provide better and more inclusive services. The training and accreditation programmes have used feedback from services users and delivery agents to deliver real changes that will improve the lives of LGBT+ older people.
A range of consultation and engagement exercises with older LGBT+ people have highlighted a number of key areas for learning including:
Understanding the past experiences of older LGBT+ people is critical to understanding real and perceived barriers to fully accessing services.
Working with local LGBT+ organisations increases the chances of getting it right and the importance of including voices of older LGBT+ people and organisations in planning services aim at their peer group.
How old do you have to be to be part of Silver Rainbows?
Most of our members are 50+ but we don’t exclude anyone who feels they want the services we offer.
Is Silver Rainbows just in Cheshire?
Our social and support services are available to people living in Cheshire and the surrounding areas. Our training and heritage programmes are open to all.
Can I volunteer with Silver Rainbows?
Yes, we have lots of opportunities for all ages volunteering including at events, social groups and peer support.
How regularly do Silver Rainbows meet?
We have a regular programme of Tea and Tattle and Silver Strollers plus additional events, click here to see what's on