The helpline is a supportive, non-judgemental and confidential space for LGBTQ people, those who are unsure and/or questioning and those who want to support a friend, family member or loved one. It is run by trained volunteers who will listen, inform and support you.
- Call us: 01273 204050
- Email us: email@example.com
- Live web chat us when we are online (bottom right hand corner of the screen)
When can I contact you?
We are usually open:
- Monday to Friday: 5pm to 9pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 5pm to 7pm
Who will answer my call?
All of our helpline operators are volunteers and they all identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). They are trained to listen and support you with any issues that you might be facing. Although they do not have all the answers, they will try their best to support you in a supportive and non-judgmental way.
So what will happen when I call?
When you are ready and in your own time you can contact us. We know how hard it can be to reach out for the first time and we will support you as best as we can.
Your call will be answered by one of our volunteers and they will say ‘Hello, Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, can I help you?’ (or words to that affect). They will then stay with you as you talk about whatever it is you have called about.
There is no rush – we recognise that it is not always easy to know where to start and it is your call.
The call will end when you are ready for it to.
What can I talk about?
You can talk about anything that’s on your mind. People contact us for a whole range of things and to get emotional support.
Some of the things people call us about include:
- Coming out or supporting someone who has
- Being unsure or questioning
- Emotional difficulties
- Relationship difficulties
- Questioning or exploring gender identity
- Questioning or exploring sexual identity
- Hate crime
- Sex life and sexual health
- Experienced bullying or harassment at college or work
- What information about other LGBTQ organisations
- Want to know what’s on and where to go in Brighton & Hove
Can anyone call?
Most people who contact us identify as LGBTQ or are questioning their sexuality. We also get some calls from friends, family members or work colleges who are looking for advice and support for those that they care about. We welcome anyone and hope to be able to support you.
How long will it take for my call to be answered?
We aim to answer your call as quickly as we can. If the phone line is busy then you might want to try us again or drop us an email and we will do our best to contact you.
Can I leave a message and can you call me back?
If you call when no-one is available, you can leave your details on the answerphone if you wish to be called back when the helpline is next open. Please only leave a number if it is safe to do so.
We won’t tell you what to do
Whilst we will listen to you and offer support, we are not able to tell you what to do. It might be that we are able to signpost you to another organisation that is able to offer you more specialist and practical support.
We don’t talk about us
First and foremost we are here for you and to support you. For that reason we do not generally talk about ourselves other than sharing our name, pronoun and sexual identity.
Supporting people who are deaf and hard or hearing
If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to us via webchat. We will support you in the same way but via a different form of contact.
Confidentiality and Caller Privacy
We have the utmost respect for your right to privacy and confidentiality and we take this issue very seriously.
Is what we talk about between us?
Yes, we don’t share what we talk about or any personal information that we have about you with anyone else. The exceptions to this are listed below.
Do you record your calls?
No, we do not record conversations with you. In order to train new volunteers and to assure quality there will be occasions when another volunteer or the Helpline Manager will be in the office and aware of the call and we sometimes listen in to provide support to one another. This allows us to continue to provide the quality and safe service that caller are used to. This practice is followed by other Helpline agencies to ensure good practice.
All volunteers are guided and bound by our confidentiality policy – of copy of which can be provided on request.
How can I ensure things are private at my end?
To ensure that you remain confident at your end it is important to us that you consider and are aware of some of the following:
- If you are emailing us, sometimes LGBT Switchboard will show up in the response title. You might want to consider this if you are emailing us from an email account that is accessed by more than just you.
- Our telephone number might show up on your phone bill. The number is a local number though so it will not be highlighted as a premium number or listed as such.
- We will only ever contact you with your permission to do so, for instance if you ask us to call you back or agree to another call at another agreed time. We would not generally leave a message for you unless you have told us it is okay to do so.
Do you know where I am calling from and can you see my number?
No. We don’t know where you are calling from and our volunteers cannot see your telephone number on their phone. This is to ensure your privacy. We will only know what you chose to share with us.
Do I have to give you my name?
No you do not have to give us your name. We know that for a lot of callers the fact that you can remain anonymous is why you contact us. We might ask you for a name but it is fine to decline to give one, or you might want to use another name that we can call you.
What information do you keep?
We do keep some information. Sometimes if you have been calling us for some time we might keep some basic information of why you are calling us. This is so we know it’s you when you call and so we can share information within the volunteer team so that we are up to date with your situation and can support you the best way we can.
We record some statistical information after every call and from time to time we might ask you some statistical information. It is okay to decline to give this to us. Our statistics are used to help us to report on our service and help improve it. Whilst we report to our partners and funders, the information that we share is never about specific callers.
When do you break confidentiality?
The only times when we would break confidentiality are when:
- We receive information about acts of terrorism or threats to life
- We have a court order asking us to pass on information that we have about a caller
- We obtain, after discussion with you, information (such as a phone number or location) which identifies a child or vulnerable adult who is at risk of harm. In this situation we would follow our Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policies (both available on request).
- You were at risk of suicide or significant harm and had information that was able to identify you.
- You were abusive, homophobic, transphobic, bi-phobic or threatening to our volunteers or deliberately made it difficult for other people to access our service.
What if I have a complaint?
If you are unhappy with the service that you have received we have a process in place so that you able to give us feedback and make a complaint. A full copy of our complaints procedure is available on request to obtain this please email email@example.com
Trans Survivors Switchboard
Survivors’ Network and LGBT Switchboard also run a dedicated helpline which offers support to trans people who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their lifetime.
Trans Survivors Switchboard is open on Sunday afternoons between 1-4pm. It is run by volunteers who all identify as trans or non-binary. This helpline is part of the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard and therefore it is run in the same way as listed above.
Hate crime reporting
Supporting and reporting for victims of LGBT hate crimes
Experiencing an attack against you – whether verbal or physical – because of your sexuality or gender identity can be an awful experience and can leave people with a wide range of difficult feelings and fears.
If this has happened to you we can support you on our helpline. We can also provide you with information about how the police may respond if you decide to report the incident to them including information about the police’s specialist LGBT Liaison Officer who can support you through the process.
If you wish to remain anonymous we can report the incident on your behalf and you can remain anonymous – this can help us to help the police in building a picture of the amount of LGBT hate incidents that happen locally. To find out more about Switchboard’s hate crime service download our leaflet.
Do you want to volunteer on the Helpline?
Here’s all you need to know about how to become a helpline volunteer.