Funding story: Age Concern Camden

The charity conducted some research into older gay and transgender people to support a lottery grant application.

Organisations often cite research to support grant applications. It is rather less common for them to commission research specifically for it, but Age Concern Camden did - and the work has helped to secure the organisation nearly £400,000 from the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities fund for a three-year project supporting older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in five London boroughs.

The money is certainly needed. "Historically, not enough funding has gone to the LGBT sector, and not enough funding is being allocated there," says Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the charity that works for equality for LGBT people.

Gary Jones, chief officer at Age Concern Camden, says: "A lot of older LGBT people do not use mainstream services. People don't feel happy or welcome using them, and the services don't always meet their needs."

Jones adds that many LGBT people of this age also have direct experience of the mental health and criminal justice systems, which obviously affects their perception of services in general. The research that was commissioned, funded by Camden Council, led to South Bank University, which is evaluating the project, becoming a partner in implementing and delivering the project.

"We started our group for older gay men two years ago, and it's gone really well," explains Jones. "The numbers rose so rapidly that we knew we had discovered a real gap in service provision.

"Some people have come from outside Camden, so we've looked at addressing the needs of the population sub-regionally. However, we also wanted to check out that the model we'd used would work with women."

So Jones and his colleagues put a research proposal out to tender. The resulting report, from Polari, a London-based organisation working with LGBT people, supports and informs the original proposal. Nearly all respondents felt the need for informed, appropriate advice and information provided, at the very least, by LGBT-friendly services.

Jones feels the exercise has been worthwhile: "It's important to present evidence to a potential funder, and it's also important in terms of good risk management."

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