LGBT helpline seeks volunteers to cope with demand

A national helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people says many thousands of calls for help are going unanswered.

The LGBT helpline, launched last year, is looking for more volunteers so it can respond to the demand.

LGBT helpline co-ordinator, Paula Fagan, said there was a broad demand for the service from both LGBT people and their loved ones.

The helpline (1890 929 539) is open 16 hours a week, but there are not enough trained volunteers to answer every call.

“In our first year, we dealt with 2,500 queries. However, we know we could have answered four times that amount of calls if we had more volunteers,” she said.

The service is calling on members of the LGBT community to volunteer their services to help others who may be in need of support.

Ms Fagan said there was a need for women and older volunteers to ensure there was a good mix of volunteers. There were five times more men volunteering than women.

While the service welcomed volunteers from across the LGBT community, it was aware of a specific need for more female volunteers and the need to raise awareness of their services among women.

She said older members were needed because older LGBT people faced specific challenges and may need extra support. “We have heard devastating stories of older LGBT people who had to go back into the closet, so to speak, because they felt they couldn’t be open about their sexuality due to changed circumstances in their lives.”

* Information at www.lgbt.ie.

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