“Hope is never silent”: Holiday Support from the LGBT Helpline
For any LGBT person struggling this Christmas, it is important to know that support is available...whenever someone contacts us, they will be able to speak with a trained volunteer who will offer a friendly listening ear and will be there to support them.
“Hope is never silent”
As we approach the time of year when most people will be celebrating with their family and friends, we are very aware of those in our own community who don’t have the acceptance of their families, and for whom Christmas can be a really stressful time. For some it can mean having to conceal their identity while staying with family, while for others it may mean being exposed to negative reactions or hostility or being excluded from family gatherings altogether.
For any LGBT person struggling this Christmas, it is important to know that support is available. Over the holidays and throughout the year, our trained volunteers are ready to listen, and can offer non-judgemental and confidential support and information. And for those times when our lines are closed, our friends at Samaritans are available directly through our phone service on 1890 929539. This means whenever someone contacts us, they will be able to speak with a trained volunteer who will offer a friendly listening ear and will be there to support them.
Our focus for 2016 has been to get the message out to LGBT people to access support when they need it. Through our It's Good To Talk campaign we encouraged people who are struggling with their Sexuality and/or Gender Identity, not to suffer in silence, but to talk to someone they trust or to our volunteers in confidence.
More recently we launched the LGBT Connaught Guide to LGBT supports and social events in Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Galway, a region where many callers to our service report feeling very high levels of loneliness and isolation. We hope that through both of these initiatives more people have, and will, get the help they need and know that they are not alone, that there are other LGBT people who are happy to support them.
As we move into 2017, our aim for next year is to continue to promote the well-being of the LGBT community. With the rise in contacts to our services from people struggling with issues relating to gender identity and expression, this means that tackling stigma about gender issues, will be a priority for us.
With this in mind we will be kicking off the New Year with a new campaign entitled "Be Yourself". Featuring celebrities from the world of fashion and entertainment, as well as LGBT people from around the country, the campaign will open up a discussion about the importance of being able to express yourself freely and the gender norms which can prevent us from doing so.
In the words of Harvey Milk – "Hope is never silent". So let’s keep talking in 2017 and strive to make Ireland a place that to Be Yourself - really can be a possibility for all.
If you or someone you love needs support or information, our confidential helpline and online chat support services are open 7 days a week. Opening hours are 6.30pm to 9pm Monday to Thursday, 4pm- 9pm Friday and from 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 1890 929 539 or go to www.lgbt.ie.