Covid-19 and lockdown has had a disproportionate effect on older LGBT+ people, with 50 per cent of survey respondents reporting a negative impact on their psychological wellbeing.
‘Only Connect – the impact of Covid-19 on older LGBT+ people’, a survey of over 100 LGBT+ over-50s, conducted by LGBT+ charity, Opening Doors London (ODL), has revealed the extreme vulnerability of these individuals under lockdown conditions.
Previous research has already shown that older LGBT+ people are significantly less likely than their heterosexual peers to have the support of children or other family members. They are also more likely to live alone and experience higher rates of poor mental health.
The increased social isolation of Covid-19 has led to:
- 23 per cent experiencing worsened physical health during lockdown
- 37 per cent feeling more lonely than usual
- 27 per cent hardly ever or never having someone to talk to during lockdown.
“Covid-19 and lockdown has disproportionately increased psychological distress and other vulnerabilities among many older LGBT+ people,” said Professor Ben Thomas, author of the survey and ODL’s research and policy officer.
“Many have been forgotten or overlooked. It’s time statutory services and local communities stepped up to meet their needs, and provide care and support, connection and interaction.”
The charity has previously run face-to-face befriending programmes to help reduce the loneliness faced by LGBT+ people. This has now moved to a weekly telephone befriending call as a way of supporting this vulnerable population throughout lockdown.
The report has called for public authorities to better identify and engage older LGBT+ people in order to incorporate their specific needs into local planning. It also calls for funding to be sustained for charities, such as ODL, to continue to support LGBT+ people in the future.