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Forty years later, Gay Switchboard Ireland is still needed

“Ireland’s Oldest LGBT Support Service, Gay Switchboard to launch its 40th year in service with Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte TD.”

in Outhouse LGBT Community Centre, Capel Street, Dublin 1

 

 ‘LGBT PEOPLE 7 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO ATTEMPT SUICIDE’

LGBT people regularly face stigma & isolation which often leads to poor mental, emotional and sexual health. They are also at a much higher risk of self-harm and suicide. Gay Switchboard has been there for 40 years to listen and offer support for this and a host of other issues affecting the LGBT community.

 

Too often we underestimate the power of the listening ear. It has the potential to turn a life around’ is Gay Switchboard Ireland’s new advocacy message as it embarks upon its 40th year providing confidential support to callers.

 

A 2013 study by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland suggests that LGBT people are 7 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. In addition, a recent UK report ‘Youth Chances’, launched in January, highlights that over half of young gay people suffer with mental health issues, with over 40% having considered suicide at some stage.

 

To highlight the importance that LGBT people seek support and also to raise awareness of it services, Gay Switchboard is delighted that Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD, is launching its new look image and website on Thursday 23rd January at Outhouse LGBT Community Centre, Capel Street, Dublin 1. The Minister was joined by Labour TD John Lyons.

 

Minister Pat Rabbitte TD said; “I am delighted to be launching the renewed image & website of Ireland’s oldest LGBT support service. The fact that Gay Switchboard has existed for 40 years demonstrates a need that clearly remains valid today. I have no doubt every volunteer that’s been a part of the service has made a difference to someone in Irish society.  I salute those volunteers.”

 

Originally called Tel-A-Friend and founded in 1974, Gay Switchboard has been a constant support for the LGBT community throughout the past 40 years of social change. Gay Switchboard volunteers have been providing confidential telephone support & signposting to the LGBT community. As Ireland’s oldest LGBT support service, it has been a constant community service throughout the social changes of the last four decades. The service, open 7 days a week, answers in excess of 2700 calls each year and is staffed entirely by trained volunteers.

 

Senator David Norris said; “I am delighted to send my heartiest congratulations to Gay Switchboard and wish it well with its renewal. I can hardly believe that it is forty years since Tel-A-Friend was actually founded. The work of Gay Switchboard is extremely important. There is still a level of fear and shame as well as confusion for young people around the country discovering they may be LGBT. It is a wonderful and humanitarian gesture to lend a comforting ear to those in distress. It is also a great privilege”.

We all need support from time to time. Gay Switchboard’s welcoming volunteers are trained to offer confidential support, signposting and information. Indeed, if you need to chat that’s fine too.

 

Director of Gay Switchboard, Tony Cooney said: ‘It is an exciting and challenging time for our service. Innovative new ways of reaching out and the commitment our dedicated volunteers means that we have been able to expand our services to the community with a weekly face to face ‘Drop In’ service. In addition, we will shortly commence a series of personal development courses for gay & bisexual men in partnership with the Gay Health Network’.

 

Publicity Coordinator, Maria Keogh said: ‘In our 40th year, Gay Switchboard hopes to raise more awareness of its services, highlight the importance of LGBT people seeking support and reach out more to support the community. Ultimately, we’d like to let people know that we’re here for them no matter what part of the country they are in, whether it’s for support or even a chat’.

 

Gay Switchboard Ireland is open 7 days a week on 01-872 1055 – because life doesn’t wait until Monday!

Confidential listening, support & signposting service for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, their parents, families and friends and for anyone who has concerns relating to sexuality. 

 

We are here to listen call us.

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