Our helpline provides you with support and information and will connect you to the right LGBTQ services or advice.
You can talk to us confidentially and anonymously about anything that’s on your mind.
We support people with a range of questions and we believe that listening can help, whether you are looking for information and support or just need someone to talk to.
Call us: 01273 204050
Email us: [email protected]
Live web chat: bottom right-hand corner of the screen
When can I contact you?
We are open 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM on Monday to Thursday.
Outside of these hours, you can leave a voicemail or message on our webchat service, or fill in the form below, and we will get back to you. Please do tell us if it is OK for us to leave you a voicemail if we call.
We are volunteer-run and have two or three listening volunteers on during shifts. If you’re unable to get through, please try again. Alternatively, we operate a live webchat service during helpline hours.
- Who will answer my call?
- What will happen when I call?
- What can I talk about?
- Do I have to give my age?
- Can anyone call?
- How long will it take for my call to be answered?
- Can I leave a message and can you call me back?
- Is what we talk about confidential?
- Do you record your calls?
- How can I ensure things are private at my end?
- Do you know where I am calling from and can you see my number?
- Do I have to give you my name?
- What information do you keep?
- When do you break confidentiality?
- What if I have a complaint?
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 in a supportive and non-judgmental way. There are generally 2 or 3 volunteers available on any shift.
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 LGBTQ Switchboard’ (or words to that effect). 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
- Emotional difficulties
- Relationship difficulties
- Questioning or exploring gender identity
- Questioning or exploring sexual identity
- Hate crime
- Drug & alcohol concerns
- Worried about your LGBTQ friend or family member
- Sex life and sexual health
- Experienced bullying or harassment at college or work
- Want information about other LGBTQ organisations
- Want to know what’s on and where to go in Brighton & Hove
Do I have to give my age?
No. You do not have to give us any information you don’t wish to share. If you do choose to provide those details it may help us to signpost you to the most appropriate services.
Can anyone call?
The service is designed for those aged 18+. Most people who contact us identify as LGBTQ or are questioning their sexuality. We also get some calls from friends, family members, or work colleagues 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 number 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. Please also let us know if you are happy with us leaving you a voicemail.
Is what we talk about confidential?
Yes, we don’t share what we talk about or any personal information that we have about you with anyone else outside the helpline. 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 callers are used to. This 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 on 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 LGBTQ 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 request a call at another agreed time. We would not 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?
We don’t know where you are calling from. Our volunteers can see your telephone number on their phone, so you are free to block your number. This is to ensure your privacy. We will only know what you choose 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 if you are comfortable sharing your name but it is fine to decline to give one, or you might want to use another name that we can call you. The helpline is the only anonymous service in Switchboard, so if we needed to refer you to one of our other services we would need to ask you for your name and contact details.
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 with 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 and demographic information after every call. We won’t ask you statistical or demographic questions, but if you share that information we will make a note of it. 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 completely anonymised and 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) that 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 are 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 protected]
Our Promise To You
We won’t tell you what to do
Whilst we will listen to you and offer support, we are not able to advise you or tell you what to do. It might be that we are able to signpost you to another Switchboard project or 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.
Confidentiality and Caller Privacy
We have the utmost respect for your right to privacy and confidentiality and we take this issue very seriously.
Supporting people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing
If you are deaf or hard of hearing you can email us on [email protected] or talk to us via webchat. We will support you in the same way but via a different form of contact.
Sexual grattification calls
While we encourage you to talk about whatever is on your mind, we do not permit conversations that are for sexual gratification. In this event our listeners will quickly bring the call to a close.
Harassment and offensive language
We understand that some topics are emotive and do encourage you to express your feelings. We understand that this might include some colourful language and that’s OK. And aggressive or offensive language directed at volunteer listeners will not be tolerated and may result in the call being terminated.
Hate crime reporting
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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ hate incidents that happen locally.
Do you want to volunteer?
Here’s all you need to know about how to become a helpline volunteer.
Switchboard Helpline is partially funded by: