At St Wilfrid’s we care a great deal about each other and our wider community. We make sure that we always treat people with dignity and respect, always acknowledge and accept people’s individuality and we truly believe that what makes us different makes us better.

The St Wilfrid’s Community Links project is a great platform for the hospice to engage with and continue to learn about the different communities, groups and organisations across our catchment area. One particular group that has been a Community Link since the beginning is Eastbourne Rainbow, who have been part of the project since August 2019.

Eastbourne Rainbow is a group for over 50’s within the LGBTQ+ community living in Eastbourne and the surrounding areas. Originally set up as an initiative by Age Concern Eastbourne (which it is still part of) to combat social isolation among older LGBTQ+ people, the group was taken over nine years ago by volunteers Derek Andrews, Chris Roby and Ken Ashworth. The group has grown steadily ever since and they now have approximately 25 people attending their sessions, ranging from 50 to 80 years of age.

Based in the centre of Eastbourne at the Venton Centre in Junction Road, the group holds monthly afternoon meetings and monthly coffee mornings to socialise, make new friends, gain support and share information. They also organise trips, hold events, welcome guest speakers and have taken part in workshops and delivered awareness training. Unfortunately, the group hasn’t been able to meet face-to-face since February 2020, however Derek and Chris have made sure that they have kept in touch with members over the phone on a regular basis and many have met up in smaller friendship groups when the restrictions have allowed.

Not only does Eastbourne Rainbow provide older LGBTQ+ individuals with a safe place to come together and socialise with those who have likeminded interests, but it is also incredibly valuable to the wider community. Their presence ensures there is representation of older LGBTQ+ people throughout Eastbourne and the surrounding areas and gives individuals a platform to raise their concerns and support one another. Should they need it, the group can also benefit from the further support that is available through Age Concern Eastbourne.

To further support the community, they have recently worked on a project with the LGBT Youth Group, Eastbourne, where individuals from Eastbourne Rainbow got to share their stories with the younger generation and worksheets were put together for local Year 11 classes. ‘I think it’s important to raise awareness and highlight these issues when people are younger because there can often be a problem with bullying in schools. Not just with LGBTQ+ issues, but it’s important that these young people are accepted for who they are,’ said Derek.

The importance of raising awareness is the main reason why Derek believes that the Community Links project is so beneficial to the community. ‘It’s good to raise awareness that groups like ours exist in Eastbourne,’ he said. ‘Similarly, even though the topic of death and dying can be difficult to talk about, it is valuable to learn about the work carried out by the hospice.’

Despite Eastbourne Rainbow having had to pause during the pandemic, Derek has continued to engage with the Community Links project by attending the virtual Community Links Get Togethers. He also regularly shares information and news from the hospice with the rest of the Eastbourne Rainbow group via their website. We are incredibly grateful to Derek and his ongoing support, and we wish the group all the best for when they return to the Venton Centre at the end of July.

If your group or organisation would be interested in finding out more about the Community Links project, please contact Lucy Cheshire via [email protected]. You can also visit the Community Links pages on our website.

Please note: St Wilfrid’s Hospice (Eastbourne) Ltd is keen to promote community links with other organisations and community groups and whilst the links on this page will take you to their respective websites, St Wilfrid’s Hospice (Eastbourne) Ltd is not responsible for the content of their websites or the practices of these groups/organisations. All other websites should have their own privacy notice/policy, and you are advised to refer to those accordingly.

Community Links Project funded by: