Dawn Hayes on 50+ wellbeing

White appearing femme looking through a rainbow coloured heart balloon

What I like most about working with service users 50+ is the history that we hold between us. People can tell you what it was like in the 60s, 70s, and 80s as a young LGBTQ person. The fun that was had at Prides and clubs as well as the shocking times through the Aids crisis, Section 28, and lack of support for the trans community. And of course bereavement as people have experienced the loss of loved ones whose relationships had spanned over 30, 40, 50 or more years.

The 50+ LGBTQ communities show me how resilient we can be but also that there is a need to share current difficulties as we age and also support each through the process. I love how 50+ service users are keen to learn from the younger generation of LGBTQ service users and the willingness to be role models for them, which is often so needed and an excellent way of finding a ‘bridge’ for the generation gap.

One of the best parts of my job is matching 50+ service users with our Telephone Befrienders, which brings people together for support. Sometimes service users may not have talked to anyone else for weeks. Or organising Peer Mentoring relationships to action goals that service users have been waiting to achieve.

I have danced with our 60+ service users at the Posh Club. For some, they had not danced for years due to their mental health. It was a rare opportunity to enjoy the ‘freedom’ that dance offers from the restrictions of a mental health disability.

Mostly, I enjoy ‘being there’ for our 50+ service users and meeting them exactly ‘where they are’ on their mental health journey. This can be effected by bereavement, physically ability, ill health, mental health, dementia, loneliness, care, and housing (to name a few). I am very proud of what MindOut can offer through the 50+ Age Matters Project and Wellbeing Service and I am extremely honoured to serve our LGBTQ community.

50+ Age Matters Project service user quotes:

“I truly did not see this happening to me. I lost a lot of friends in the 1980s due to Aids and now I have lost my friends again due to the pandemic and getting older. I can’t thank MindOut enough for your Befriending service. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I think I would have wanted to give up living”.

“I came to Brighton to start a new life after my partner died and then the pandemic hit. I have not made one new friend here. Coming to MindOut support groups simply saved me from falling into crisis and harming myself again. I never knew a place like MindOut existed before I came to Brighton. I am so very grateful.”

“My husband left me last year. I lost my home, my income, the love of my life and I wanted my life to end. I gave myself a year to make things better and if not, I would end my life. Coming to MindOut support groups turned my life around, gave me hope and helped me see that if others can make it who have similar experiences to me, then so can I make it too.”

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