Polari is closing; a new organisation is being set up

admin1's picture

After 16 years campaigning for greater awareness of the needs of older lesbians and gay men (and latterly bisexual and trans older people) Polari is handing on the baton.

Polari (1993-2009) is closing

Polari, the organisation that has campaigned since 1993 for greater awareness of, and more inclusive services for, older lesbians and gay men (and latterly also for bisexual and transgender older people) will be closing at the end of March 2009.

A new user-led older LGBT organisation, Age of Diversity, is setting up

Our important work of the past sixteen years will be carried on by other organisations, and Polari is delighted to announce that its Director, Lindsay River, is working with other older LGBT people to launch a new, user-led organisation: Age of Diversity, the Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Alliance.

Polari’s work

Polari has always been a very small organisation but has had considerable influence nonetheless, bringing the voices of the older LGBT people we have consulted to government departments, local authorities and service providers. An archive of our work and many achievements will be kept at www.casweb.org/polari/.

Our policy and strategy work, and user involvement and consultation, has been Polari’s core task: something that has been well recognised by our funders, Comic Relief, the Big Lottery, City Parochial Foundation, City Bridge Trust and Lloyds TSB. Polari’s work as a catalyst and instigator, as an advisor and sometimes as a challenging voice, has been widely effective. While we are disappointed that there is still not the range of services that we know older LGBT people want, we do see that more service providers and local commissioners are beginning to think about how inclusive and appropriate their older services are. The answer to ‘where’s the nearest gay care home?’ is still ‘Berlin’, but we are delighted that the Commission for Social Care Inspection has produced material to stimulate better services for older LGBT people who use care.

What about the future?

The new organisation, Age of Diversity, will be unfunded at first but plans to focus the enthusiasm, expertise and voluntary effort of the older LGBT communities to make a better future for older LGBT people. It will also work with partners such as Age Concern, Stonewall Housing and Stonewall to that end. It needs in time to become bigger and better known than Polari and to involve large numbers of our older communities. Older lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people have been the strength and heart of Polari: more will be heard from them and their new campaigns in the years to come in the new Age of Diversity we foresee.

Join with us in celebrating the achievements of Polari, as we hand on the baton to Age of Diversity.

Polari's achievements

Polari’s achievements include ground-breaking research (As We Grow Older, 1995), years of consultation with older lesbians and gay men, a project that involved them together with local policy makers and service providers in three London Boroughs (Polari in Partnership 2002-2005, reported in Being Taken Seriously, 2006) a major Conference for service providers (In the Life) in 2005. Since this time Polari has undertaken research on the experience of older lesbian gay and bisexual users of mental health services, and users of general practice, consultation work locally and strategic work on many advisory groups and user reference groups.