Last September Trinity Hospice launched its LGBT Friends group with a commitment to improve our relationship with people from LGBT communities, and to improve their relationship with health but also death and dying.
The meetings with this group have been invaluable in giving us an insight into what an inclusive environment might look and feel like, and has started to equip us with better understanding of potential needs and some tools to address them.
The areas we have explored so far include; the myths and folk lore around death, dying and hospices, the use of imagery and language, specific transgender issues and how events and fundraising can be tailored to attract LGBT support.
It is no surprise to know that LGBT people have the same fears about death and dying as anyone else, but some feel these are magnified by identifying as LGBT and the still present fear of discrimination and poor treatment.
Their need to plan for death can be more challenging due to personal and legal reasons, and is all too often left too late.
To be able to not worry about inclusion and acceptance is a weight lifted. We heard of older LGBT people going back in the closet for their old age, not able to come out again to new professionals or carers, or in new environments. This is endorsed by recent research from the University of Nottingham.
We have discovered that very simple gestures such as a small rainbow on external notice boards and doors, a website page and non-binary toilets can make a difference.
We are reassured that we do not need to ensure every leaflet shows every relationship configuration possible, and to consider other imagery is OK. For instance the use of two hands clasped together rather than full people shots, or images from the garden.
Our friends also suggested that if LGBT staff were able to make themselves known that would be beneficial, or if Trinity publicised its equality data to demonstrate diversity in its own number.
Some tips we have picked up regarding fundraising events include considering special events with other local LGBT groups, or simply considering making our current events more inviting. For example we have an outdoor cinema series for three nights in the summer and hoped to have chosen at least one film that our Friends will want to come along and watch.
Our Friends have been clear to tell us that this inclusiveness works two ways and that we should recognise that some LGBT people may make a considered choice not to disclose their sexuality or gender, while others may cause tension by getting anxious or over defensive about their status. “We can be our own worst enemy,” one Friend told us, “we have to take some responsibility in this.”
Trinity hopes to continue this valuable relationship with local LGBT people and continue to build an inclusive and welcoming environment which will allow everyone to live every moment.
Trinity Hospice is once again taking part in the LGBT Pride Parade in London on 27 June and has invited other hospices to join them in this celebration.