The northern British city of Manchester has announced it is to open the country’s first retirement community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

There are more than 7,000 LGBT people over the age of 50 in Manchester and the number is expected to increase, the council said in a statement.

The project aims to meet a need for assisted accommodation for older LGBT people where they can be open about their identity, it said.

“Prejudice and discrimination can be a real problem facing older LGBT people,” Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s lead member for LGBT women, said in a statement.

“People shouldn’t have to face the prospect as they get older of being surrounded by people who may not accept their sexuality or gender identity.”

The development will offer apartments to rent or buy for people aged 55 plus and will have a 24-hour care team on site. Just over half the accommodation will be reserved for LGBT people, but other residents are also welcome.

According to research by the Manchester-based charity LGBT Foundation, more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in this age group fear isolation in their older life because of their sexual orientation.

Manchester will join a growing number of cities around the world offering retirement accommodation for LGBT people. Similar developments have opened in Sweden, the United States and Canada.

By Magdalena Mis. Editing by Emma Batha. c Thomson Reuters Foundation.