GRAI launches Befriender program to connect LGBTQIA+ elders

Western Australia’s LGBTQIA+ elder support and advocacy organisation GRAI have launched a new program to connect LGBTQIA+ elders.

GRAI’s Befriender program aims to reach out to isolated and lonely LGBTQIA+ elders and pair them up with peers for regular company, support and connection.

The initiative will be led by GRAI’s Befriending Coordinator whose role is to carefully match pairs and support their connections, whether that’s in person or online.

“LGBTI people aged 50 years and over have been found to be lonelier compared to elders in the general population,” GRAI said of the project.

“People who are not in a relationship or who are living alone are more vulnerable to loneliness, as are those who believe friendship is more important than family or who report having no friends to call on in a crisis.”

“Older lesbian and gay people are less likely than heterosexual people to have a partner, children, or support from their family of origin and thus are more likely to experience loneliness.”

“Research has consistently shown that people live longer, have fewer physical symptoms of illness, and have lower blood pressure when they are a member of a social network than when they are isolated. An Australian study of gay older men also indicated that social support was related to less psychological distress.”

“LGBTI folk who are experiencing loneliness place a lot of importance on friendship, and particularly the friendship of other LGBTI people. Those people tend to want to get involved in an LGBTI social and health-promoting activities with other LGBTI elders.”

The Befriender program will run as a supplement to GRAI’s groundbreaking Village Hub, inviting befriending to attend Village Hub activities that cater to the interests and needs of LGBTQIA+ elders.

Announced last year, GRAI’s Village Hub will be led by and for older LGBTQIA+ people, offering multidimensional peer support and service development for the community.

Work towards creating culturally safe referral pathways and links to mainstream services such as medical, aged care services or housing supports is also being developed.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Befriender program, head to grai.org.au for more information.


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