Tonic Housing’s first properties have opened up to Lambeth residents.
London is now home another historic first, as the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community launched yesterday (September 20) in Vauxhall. Tonic Housing completed the purchase of nineteen properties at Bankhouse earlier in the year, a dedicated older living housing development overlooking the River Thames at Albert Embankment. [All images by Tim Boddy]
It’s a momentous step, with Tonic calling it “a major milestone for LGBT+ housing as there is no LGBT+ affirming provision with care currently in operation in the UK, despite there being a clearly defined need and demand from within the LGBT+ community.” The first residents will move into the space before the end of the year.
To celebrate the launch of the historic space, Mayor Sadiq Khan was around to cut the rainbow ribbon, before a big ol’ party was hosted at Vauxhall’s LGBT+ bar and theatre, Above The Stag.
As well as a lively performance from drag superstar Soroya Marchelle and tunes from DJ collective, Queer House Party, Tonic Housing’s CEO Anna Kear, and board member Geoff Pine, both shared their personal connection and significance of the project with those that attended.
At long last, older members of the LGBT+ community will have an assisted living space that caters to their identities and communities, with Tonic promising to collaborate with residents on events and activities that fit their interests. The properties are a mix of one and two-bedroom homes, which all sit within the Norman Foster-designed development. Bankhouse also includes an on-site restaurant, a floating roof garden, and roof terrace with views over Central London. Our fave floating bar Tamesis Dock is handily placed nearby, too.
Anna Kear, CEO, Tonic Housing, said: “I’m delighted that we were finally able to celebrate this momentous achievement and I’m so proud to be the CEO of Tonic.
“There has been recognition from within our community of the need to provide choice in housing and care for our elders since at least 1994 when Polari Housing Association was formed, with similar objectives to Tonic. Achieving this vision has been a long journey, not often understood by the mainstream, but our community has worked collaboratively along with our allies, to create a safe place where we can live our lives OUT.
“Thanks to support from the Mayor of London, and our partnership with One Housing, we have been able to make this project a reality and it shows what can be done with a collaborative approach between two organisations. We both value our ongoing relationship, working together to ensure this LGBT+ affirming community is a great place to live for all residents for many many years to come.”
Sadiq Khan provided support in the form of a £5.7 million loan from the GLA Community Housing Fund, money which will now help to create a vital space for older LGBT+ individuals and couples. The new development also builds on the excellent efforts of charities such as Opening Doors London, who’ve done crucial work in helping care homes and hospitals understand the needs of ageing LGBT+ people. It’s another huge step forward in making the capital a kinder, more inclusive space for all, and we’re extremely here for it.
For more information, head to the Tonic Housing website.
Also published on Medium.