by Anna Fenton
After 35 years of running a helpline for gay and lesbian people in Edinburgh and the Lothians, Lothian Gay & Lesbian Switchboard (LGLS) took its last calls at the end of October. Taking over the running of the helpline from November 4th is the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing.
The helpline has the LGLS number (0131 556 4049) and will be available every Wednesday, 12.30-7pm. It offers support and information on a range of important issues including sexuality, relationships, sexual health and coming out. The service is available to anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and those questioning their sexuality or gender identity. It is also there to help families, friends, supporters and any other agencies acting on behalf of another person.
Stiofán McFadden, NUS Scotland LGBT Officer and University of Edinburgh LGBT President said: “The helpline is important, as it offers information and the LGBT societies do not have a very big presence on the web. It also offers support and advice for people who are confused about their sexuality, and as it is anonymous, people don’t feel as worried about it as they would coming to a meeting.”
LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing’s Manager, Maruska Greenwood said: “Switchboard volunteers have done a tremendous job providing this phone service for so long. Switchboard has over the years helped tens of thousands of callers and it is an honour for the LGBT Centre to take on their mantle. We already run a comprehensive programme of groups, events, courses and activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Thanks to the funding NHS Lothian have made available we will now be able to also provide a dedicated telephone service that offers information and support to all LGBT people who need it.”
The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing opened in 2003 as a unique initiative to address health inequalities by promoting the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living in, working in and travelling to Edinburgh. There are a number of other helplines in Edinburgh , including Nightline, Depression Alliance Scotland and Samaritans, but the LGBT Helpline is the only one specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.