SWITCHBOARD Victoria is launching a service to help older LGBTI people to connect with like-minded visitors.

The program Out and About extends the Department of Social Services Community Visitors Scheme to the LGBTI community aged over 65.

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Switchboard Manager Leanne Renfree said “[the program] is not a home service, it’s about providing connections” and allowing people to “talk to someone who gets it”.

She stressed that loneliness and social isolation is experienced by the elderly in general, but older LGBTI people also face problems of discrimination in transphobia and homophobia.

They are largely invisible and more likely to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of discrimination and rejection.

Through swapping stories with volunteers, and sharing activities such as reading, watching TV, seeing a film, or going for a stroll, the service aims create an aged care culture inclusive of older LGBTI people.

Visits with volunteers may improve their quality of life and encourage more people to reach out and ask for help.

Switchboard is looking to provide training and ongoing support to volunteers with good communication skills who are aged over 18, from all backgrounds, willing to volunteer their time and conversation.

They are also welcoming phone calls from older people who identify as LGBTI who would like to receive visitors in their home.

Email outandabout@switchboard.org.au to express your interest.

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