Plans to create a community for Manchester’s older LGBTQ+ people (and their pets) have been announced by Manchester City Council.
According to Manchester City Council more than 7,000 people in Manchester over the age of 50 identify as LGBTQ+ and the number of over-65s is expected to rise significantly in the next 20 years.
Following research undertaken through the LGBTQ+ Foundation, the council has revealled there are higher levels of loneliness and isolation among LGBTQ+ older people as well as a lack of specific affordable accommodation where they can be open about their identity later in life.
As a result, Russell Road in Whalley Range has been selected as the location for the UK’s first Extra Care scheme designed for older LGBTQ+ people. Extra Care schemes are targeted developments for older people, offering independent living in apartments to rent and purchase for people aged 55 plus, where experienced and well-trained staff and carers will be on hand 24-hours a day.
Following planning approvals, 77 houses will be built on the site in the heart of the Whalley Range community in South Manchester, half of which will be available to rent and half for outright sale. And although designed to support the care needs of older LGBTQ+ people, the scheme will also be open to anyone aged 55 and over.
Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s Executive member for Adult health and well-being and Lead Member for LGBTQ+ issues, said:
“For decades Manchester has been the champion of the LGBTQ+ community and it’s with a huge amount of pride that we are able to continue this commitment with the UK’s first LGBTQ+ Extra Care scheme.
“Older LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ people, but this particular scheme has a focus on LGBTQ+ 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.”
A council spokesman said Whalley Range was chosen due to its vibrant and diverse community and good local amenities. It is believed that 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.
A demolition application for the former Spire Hospital (a private healthcare provider) at the chosen site will be submitted mid-December following an initial consultation event with Whalley Range residents. A full planning application for the proposed scheme will be submitted next year, following consultation with the LGBTQ+ and local communities.
A council spokesman said the Russell Road scheme is one of several Extra Care schemes planned across the city that will deliver around 500 homes in the next three years. The aim is to provide high quality housing for older people while freeing up social or family housing elsewhere in the city.
The Russell Road site will also accommodate around 12 family homes for general sale which council bosses say will 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.
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said:
“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. 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.”
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Also published on Medium.