Vauxhall’s an area that’s steeped in LGBTQ+ history. It’s home to 160-odd-year-old queer cabaret venue the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, for goodness sake.
So, it feels extremely right that the UK’s first retirement community for LGBTQ+ people will be opening there later this year.
The project – which will be made up of 19 homes – has been given the go-ahead after receiving a £5.7 million Community Housing Fund loan by the Mayor’s office.
Its aim is to offer an alternative to ordinary retirement communities where LGBTQ+ people often find themselves hiding their true identities. (A 2018 survey found that many felt they couldn’t live freely in their older years.)
The new development is being run by a company called Tonic. The company says it’s driven by demands for more LGBTQ+ safe spaces for older people. ‘Rather than just being “LGBTQ+ friendly” our services will be actively affirming of the lives, histories, needs and desires of LGBTQ+ people,’ it says on its website. ‘This does not imply exclusion of those who do not identify as LGBTQ+ but actively values those who respect and celebrate LGBTQ+ people.’
The Vauxhall space will offer events, activities and pop-ups run in collaboration with other LGBTQ+ organisations, as well as a restaurant and floating garden. Sales of the flats will start later spring. Tonic hopes to follow them up with a second retirement community in Manchester.
Sadiq Khan said: ‘London is an open, diverse, inclusive city and I’m delighted to see these long-held plans come to fruition. Older Londoners deserve to be able to enjoy their later years in comfort and security, surrounded by a thriving, supportive community.’
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