L&Q to open UK’s first cohousing scheme for older members of LGBT community in partnership with LOLC

Published on 21/10/2020

L&Q has teamed up with a community organisation to set up the first cohousing scheme for older members of the LGBT community, which will be created and run by its residents.

The pioneering cohousing scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK.

L&Q, alongside London Older Lesbian Co-housing (LOLC), will work together to develop a scheme, through coproduction and codesign, with separate apartments and a communal garden, social space, dining room and kitchen. LOLC’s members are 50+ and from all backgrounds.

Michael Verrier, chair of L&Q’s LGBT forum, said: “Housing provision for older LGBTQ people has been a key theme of L&Q’s LGBT Forum and we are proud that our Housing Association is working with the LOLC to create a ‘first of its kind’.

“This is the sort of pioneering work that demonstrates a real and genuine commitment to meeting, not just the needs of the LGBTQ community, but those most vulnerable within the LGBTQ community.”

L&Q are exploring a small site in east London for the cohousing community.

LOLC’s members are all from vulnerable groups, with many health issues of varying seriousness.

“Despite our liveliness and occasional feistiness, we are all over-55 and most of us are well over that,” LOLC’s Amanda Girling-Budd said.

“Some of us are from ethnic minorities, and some are migrants.”

“We have suffered discrimination in the past because of our sexuality and we need the assurance that we can continue to be ‘out’ in our final years.”

“Our strapline is ‘supporting each other to have the best rest of our lives’ and that is what we aim to do.”

Although still in its early stages, the project – which will be the first LGBT co-housing scheme in the UK - is being backed by the Build London Partnership, the Greater London Authority Community-Led Housing Hub.

L&Q’s development and sales director, Fiona Fletcher-Smith, said: “We are so pleased to be a part of this pioneering project".

“We really value our relationship with smaller housing associations through the Build London Partnership and we recognise the need to support and protect vulnerable groups.

“We want to form and maintain partnerships with small housing associations, community organisations and the government, to achieve our main aim – to provide affordable housing for those that need it.”

LOLC and L&Q have been working together on this project since before the coronavirus pandemic.

Amanda Girling-Budd continued: “Our relationship with L&Q grew out of the housing association’s Build London Partnership with the Mayor of London."

“Through that collaboration L&Q are working on small developments with small and medium size housing associations, particularly those fostered within ethnic minority communities. Some small housing associations do not have the clout to develop an affordable housing scheme on their own and L&Q has stepped in as an experienced partner."

“We are not a housing association, so we fell outside the remit of the Mayor’s initiative, but L&Q were keen to work with us, as a community group, recognizing the specific needs of an ageing ‘out’ LGBT community.”

Cohousing is a different way to address the needs of older people. The home will not be an alternative to a care home, but an alternative to sheltered housing. Residents will live in the same building complex, but with their own apartment and our own front door, but shared facilities.

“In working with our project, L&Q have demonstrated their commitment to supporting those in the community who need it”, Amanda added.