For Annie, retirement has been a golden opportunity to give back to the community she feels so proud to be part of. Fifteen years ago, Annie left her career in mental health to work for the Albert Kennedy Trust.
Through the charity’s supported lodging scheme, Annie and her partner of 25 years, Belinda, provided a safe home for LGBT+ youths who had become homeless or were living in a hostile environment.
Volunteering in retirement
Now 70, Annie is a trustee of Opening Doors London, the largest UK charity providing activities, information and support to older LGBT+ people.
Annie’s volunteer commitments don’t end there; she’s also part of the Community Advisory panel for Tonic Housing, the UK’s first LGBT+ retirement community, as well as a volunteer befriender for helpline LGBT Switchboard.
“Every week I speak to someone who’s on their own. These groups are so important for our community; we all need places we can walk into and feel ourselves. I’m thrilled Tonic Housing is now up and running with its first LGBT+ retirement community.”
Before meeting Belinda, Annie was in a heterosexual marriage and had a daughter – who also identifies as lesbian. Calling themselves “the gay grannies”, Annie and Belinda have been blessed with two grandchildren, aged 6 and 3.
As was the experience for most families, the COVID-19 lockdown wasn’t easy, but Annie has remained optimistic as she’s been able to see her grandchildren through doorstep visits every week.
Attitudes to retirement
Annie’s positivity is infectious. “I’ve got two new hips, but I cycled 18km yesterday to Hampstead and back. I’m pretty enthusiastic about life, I’ve got a great circle of friends and I like to have a good time!”
Despite having plenty to do, Annie admits that it took her a couple of years to adjust to retirement. “I had a bit of a self-esteem issue about not earning money. It’s what we do, you go to work, you earn money”.
“I probably should have done financial planning a lot earlier but I’m lucky to be financially stable without having to rely on the state pension; it just covers the very basics.”
The freedom of retirement has given Annie the chance to provide meaningful support to causes she really cares about, and she loves it. Something she tells her partner Belinda, who’s still working, regularly.
Her advice to future retirees is to “volunteer for something you’re passionate about and do lots of partying!”