Championing Innovative Research with LGBTQ+ Populations for over 20 Years

Help & Care has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+* community and undertaking groundbreaking research into inclusivity, mental wellbeing, and access to healthcare.

Since 2003, we have worked on a number of projects, most recently taking the issue of cancer care to Parliament. You can read more about that here.

While excellent progress has been made in many areas, it is clear that much work still needs to be done. Help & Care is committed to social justice and equality, so will continue to work with marginalised communities, undertaking research with people with lived experience.

Our first project began in 2003, working with older lesbian and gay people, which they called “Gay and Grey”.

*(Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer + more)


Gay and Grey Project | 2003-2006

The ‘Gay and Grey’ Project (2003-2006) was funded by The Big Lottery (£175,000).  A ground-breaking, participative approach explored the experiences and needs of older lesbian and gay people, supporting older volunteers to undertake and disseminate the research.

The Gay and Grey project has since been acknowledged as developing an innovative methodology for LGBTQ+ research (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2008). Issues related to discrimination, fear of coming out, and the need for accepting service provision emerged from the research.

The Gay and Grey project was the first in the UK to amass a sizeable sample of older LGBTQ+ people (NIHR, 2009:24). Its methodology is acknowledged as offering an inclusive approach to sexual orientation research (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2008: 427), and has been acknowledged by the Social Care Institute for Excellence as providing insights which promote good practice with older LGBTQ+ people (SCIE, 2011, p.15).

The late Ann Fannin, one of thecommunity co-researchers, gave us this quote: “Older gay people are largely invisible in our society; in our research we have tried to redress the balance. We have had some startling results. A high percentage of older gay men and lesbians have never been able to talk about their sexuality either to family or friends, let alone Health and Community workers, which has huge implications for their emotional wellbeing and for appropriate care in old age.”

We also heard from Kevin Hall, Project Manager for Gay and Grey, and he explained why he felt so proud to be a part of this: “I was fortunate enough to be part of a groundbreaking approach to research as the Project Manager for Gay and Grey. Help & Care along with BU, were the very first to put community researchers at the heart of the project which then became informed by them. I was struck by how very brave they all were and honoured to be a part of this work.”


Key stages of the project:

  • 2003 – Gay & Grey starts – Older Gay and Lesbian Community Researchers
  • 2003 - Clearing the Hurdles - Identifying barriers to independence for over 50’s and a focus on Age Discrimination
  • 2004 – Getting Abroad – Older Community Researchers – Learning Aspirations of Older People in Rural Areas
  • 2006 – Gay & Grey concludes


 Gay and Grey | A game changer

Christopher Beale, Programmes Director Prama, describes how important this project and its findings were, in highlighting injustices that had long gone unheard.

Help and Care’s Gay and Grey report in 2006 was a real game changer for charities and statutory agencies working here in BCP and Dorset. It was the first time a key local organisation had taken the step to work with the LGBTQ+ community who had been marginalised and discriminated against for so long within our local communities. The report brought home a lot of uncomfortable truths for us organisations providing services, that whereas we were saying our services were open to everyone, that was not the case in reality. We had to change.

Likewise, the report showed all of us the importance of listening to the lived experience of the people we were seeking to support; the report was full of voices and experiences we had not listened to before. The lasting impact of the report is twofold, it has influenced local organisations to be more responsive and inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community, it has also made us think of what other communities we have not engaged with and learnt from.


Building on this success

Help & Care has continued to work on various projects helping other community groups, up to most recently, the Whatever it Takes project, which continues into 2024 and onwards.

2005 – 2006 – Community Researcher Learning Module for community co-researchers developed: read here for more details

2008– 2012 Rufus Stone Film by Dr Kip Jones - screened in 150 countries

2021 – Whatever it Takes starts – Neurodivergent & Disabled Community Researchers: read the news article here

2022 – Whatever if Takes starts – Black Men’s Prostate Cancer Community Researchers: read more details here

2023 – Whatever it Takes – Attendance at Peer and Cross-Party Review at Houses of Parliament: read the news article here

2023 – Whatever it Takes starts – Trans+ Community Researchers


What next?

Follow this journey with us on social media; Facebook, Twitter (X) or LinkedIn.

Acceditation logos