UK charity for older LGBTQ+ people to close permanently

A UK charity for LGBTQ+ over-50s is to close permanently at the end of the month, because of what it describes as “ongoing financial difficulties.”

Opening Doors announced the news in a statement on its website on Tuesday (20 February).

“Despite the relentless efforts of our board of trustees and staff to secure a sustainable future for our work, the current economic environment has significantly impacted our funding sources, leaving us unable to continue,” the statement said.

The charity is seeking “alternative support networks” for its members.

“Our legacy is one of pride, awareness and a foundational platform for future advocacy. Our work has not only highlighted the unique challenges older LGBTQ+ individuals face but also fostered a community of support and recognition.”

Founded in 2016, Opening Doors was created as a resource for LGBTQ+ people aged 50 and above to access specialist support groups or services.

As well as campaign and training work to help improve the wellbeing of members, Opening Doors has worked on several research projects, most notably Pride in Care – an accreditation handed to UK organisations that provide “quality care” for older LGBTQ+ people.

A survey in 2019 revealed that 82 per cent of members said they felt more connected to the LGBTQ+ community as a result of Opening Doors’ work.

Chief executive Bridget Symonds thanked staff and volunteers for their “dedication, hard work and endless support”.

She went on to say: “Your contributions have been the backbone of our achievements and outreach. Special thanks to those who supported our emergency appeal, your efforts have helped us extend our services through the winter months.”

The organisation encouraged members to connect with various other LGBTQ+ charities, including Stonewall Housing, holistic centre Elop, Galop and Tonic Housing, which “all do incredible work with our communities”.

Opening Doors is not the first not-for-profit group to have been affected by the economic landscape in the UK, with a wave of charities closing in early 2023 due to the cost of living crisis.

The charity Love Learning, in Scotland, had to shut down after it had “tried everything.”

Its closure followed those of Cornwall-based mental-health charity Sea Sanctuary, Kids and Adults Together, based in Glasgow, and the Ethos Group Oswestry, in Shropshire.

In a statement to Third Sector, Josie Hinton, the practical support manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “This is a challenging time for charities, just as it is for communities across the country. The cost-of-living crisis is having a real impact on the voluntary sector, and, unfortunately, this will mean that some organisations will be forced to reduce their services or even close for good.”

Hinton urged organisations to “be clear about the reason for making the decision to close” and to “consider the alternatives to closure such as mergers, changing ways of working, adapting purpose [or] seeking other income”.