Natalie Woods, the services and development manager at Brighton & Hove, LGBT Switchboard, presented the Annual Report at LGBT Switchboard’s AGM at the end of November 2012. She said the last year had seen significant successes and challenges for Switchboard, the LGBT counselling and helpline service, which in its 37th year needed to raise £20,000 to continue to deliver its telephone and face-to-face counseling services to those in Brighton and beyond.
Ten counsellors (later reduced to five due to lack of funds) received 61 requests for counselling, and counselled 45 people. The service had an average waiting time of 8-12 weeks, and at the time of writing there are 21 people waiting for counselling with an average wait time of 5 months.
Twenty-one volunteers delivered the help-line service and a ring-back service was started where callers can now leave a message and receive a call back.
Despite the challenges, Switchboard have survived a turbulent year and have been able to continue providing high quality help-line and counselling services to meet LGBT people’s needs.
Key achievements in 2011-2012:
• Provision of help-line services to over 900 callers
• Provision of 331 counselling sessions to 45 clients
• Grant funding secured from The Lloyds TSB foundation towards core costs.
• Grant funding from The Cooperative Community Membership Fund to recruit and retain a trans identified counsellor for 12 months
• Significant funds raised from community fundraising activities
• Recruitment of a qualified trans identified counsellor
• Development and delivery of a training programme for local counsellors/therapists to increase their knowledge and understanding of the issues that affect LGBT people
• Co-management of LGBT Health and Inclusion Project (HIP) in partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust – the project achieved success in engaging with the LGBT community on a number of important issues including: mental health experiences and needs, sexual health needs of bi and trans people.
Whilst 2011-2012 was a financially challenging year by the end of the year Natalie reported they were on the road to recovery and had begun to identify strategies to:
• Develop fundraising strategy and action plan to strengthen our sustainability
• Build a stronger, sustainable Trustee Board
• Aim to increase capacity within the counselling service.
• Increase staff hours to increase organisational capacity
• Secure a comfortable appropriate dedicated space for counselling
• Develop existing partnership work and explore new partnership work to meet unmet needs of the LGBT community
• Increase community engagement activity and strengthen community connections
• Develop service user involvement initiatives
• Improve outcome based monitoring and evaluation systems
• Develop the website
• Develop the use of social media
The Helpline is operated weekdays 5-9pm and weekends 5-7pm.
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