THE site of the UK’s first extra care scheme designed for older LGBT people has been identified in Manchester.
The city council has confirmed the former Swire Hospital site on Russell Road in Whalley Range as the location for the facility, which will add a new chapter to Manchester’s history of pioneering support for the LGBT community.
In 2013, the city council commissioned research through the LGBT Foundation that indicated higher levels of loneliness and isolation amongst LGBT older people, and a lack of specific affordable accommodation where they can be open about their identity later in life.
Manchester’s LGBT population is growing and more than 7,000 people over the age of 50 identify as LGBT across the city. The number of LGBT people over the age of 65 is expected to rise significantly in the next 20 years.
These pioneers have faced discrimination during their lifetimes and although society has become more LGBT friendly, discrimination does still exist.
“For decades Manchester has been the champion of the LGBT community and it’s with a huge amount of pride that we are able to continue this commitment with the UK’s first LGBT extra care scheme,” said Councillor Bev Craig, the city council’s executive member for adult health and well-being, who is also the lead member for LGBT issues.
“Older LGBT people tell us that as they grow older they can fear discrimination, particularly in relation to their care needs, and this scheme will offer access to care on-site, should you need it, while remaining completely independent. Many extra care residents still have jobs and have active lifestyles, but live in a welcoming and supportive community that allows them to grow older in a positive way.
“Of course all extra care schemes are welcoming to LGBT people, but this particular scheme has a focus on LGBT people to meet specific care needs and to offer an understanding and open space where the community can be sure they will not face discrimination or prejudice for their sexuality or gender identity. Alongside this flagship scheme, we are working to make sure that we tackle discrimination in community, care home and care service settings.”
Whalley Range was chosen due to its “vibrant and diverse community”, with good local amenities, according to the council. Bringing an extra care facility to the site will attract a “stable group” of new residents who will add to and benefit the community, while the development will look to enhance the neighbourhood without impacting on the area’s conservation status.
Following planning approvals, the key site in in the heart of the Whalley Range community in South Manchester will include around 77 extra care properties – half for “affordable” rent and half for outright sale – and although designed to support the care needs of older LGBT people, the scheme will be open to anyone aged 55 and over, the council said.
A demolition application for the former hospital will be submitted in the middle of this month, following an initial consultation event with local. A full planning application for the proposed scheme will be submitted next year, the council said, following consultation with the LGBT and local communities.
The Russell Road scheme is one of several Extra Care schemes planned across the city that will deliver almost 500 homes for older people in the next three years, which is expected to free up social or family housing elsewhere in the city.
The Russell Road site will also accommodate around 12 family homes for general sale to help meet demand for quality family housing in the area.
The Extra Care properties will remain affordable to Manchester people and will be supported by well-trained and experienced staff. Pets will also be welcome at the scheme.
“It’s important that we act now to increase the housing choice for older people and create a wider range of housing options that suit their needs,” said Councillor Suzanne Richards, the city council’s executive member for housing and regeneration.
“Extra Care is open to anyone over the age of 55, helping to meet an area of housing demand that will increase as Manchester’s population continues to age. Investing in this type of follow-on accommodation also frees up family homes and social housing that is then made available for the next generation of Mancunians to build their lives in.”