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Anna Kear: Leading the first LGBTQ+ affirming retirement community

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Our guest in this episode of devcast… is Anna Kear – CEO of Tonic Housing, a community-led, pioneering organisation, creating the first LGBTQ+ affirming retirement community in the UK.

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Hosted by Andrew Deverell-Smith, Global CEO and founder of deverellsmith & Hintel, listen as they dive into Anna’s experience beginning her career within homeless accommodations, the challenges she faced, and how this led to her to steering Tonic housing towards remarkable successes, pushing boundaries, breaking down barriers along the way. 

Read below a snippet of Anna’s story or watch the full podcast below. 

Home economics to housing communities

Anna discovered her passion for housing during her home economics studies. During her job search, she became inspired by a position focusing on homeless accommodation—a place designed to aid individuals in transitioning from the streets to more permanent housing, providing a supportive environment for up to a year. At a mere 21 years old, this position challenged her, reshaping her perspective on housing as more than just bricks and mortar; it became intricately tied to people’s experiences. Many who sought refuge in the accommodation grappled with substance abuse, mental health struggles, and the trauma of homelessness. Understanding this holistic view became a crucial lesson for Anna.

Prevention over reaction

Subsequently, she transitioned into the role of a homelessness officer during the late 80’s, a period rife with mortgage repossessions. Anna worked to expand temporary accommodation while maintaining a keen focus on the human aspect of this crisis. Within 2 years, she proposed a transformative paper aimed at restructuring the system. Her vision aimed to pivot from a reactive service to a homelessness prevention initiative, aiming to intervene earlier in the process to avert the anguish of homelessness.

Creating retirement communities for all

Having garnered extensive experience across almost every facet of the housing industry, Anna delved into the story behind Tonic Housing. The idea was a concept of Tonic’s Founders and board members, sparked from their own life experiences and questions around the choices available to them regarding housing as an elderly member of the LGBTQ+ community. From this, they observed a notable absence of inclusive choices in the housing market, spurring them to offer secure alternatives. Their passion was driven by the aspiration to create a haven where individuals could not only embrace their LGBTQ+ identity but also find solace among like-minded individuals who truly understood their journey.

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