All posts by Camille Vincent

LGBT Helpline Scotland launches new online chat box service

Friday, October 19, 2018

Our national LGBT Helpline Scotland is delighted to announce the launch of a pilot online chat box service. The 6-month pilot for LGBT adults, their families and supporters across Scotland, will run until the end of October 2018.

Despite positive steps in regards to equality legislation and public attitudes, many LGBT people throughout Scotland can still feel isolated. People contact the helpline seeking emotional support or information on a range of topics including sexual health, hate crime, coming out, housing, difficulties with relationships and mental health issues. We have a trained, non-judgmental and friendly team of staff and volunteers to respond to anyone getting in touch.

Stephen McCabe (Helpline Coordinator) explains that:

 

The new service is available weekly on a Tuesday from 3-9pm by visiting our website at: www.lgbthealth.org.uk

Pride (Volunteer’s Week)

Friday, October 19, 2018

In honour of Volunteer’s Week which takes place every year to celebrate the fantastic contribution millions volunteers make across the UK, we want to take the time to celebrate our fabulous volunteer Rachel who has been helping us around the office with maintaining our databases and providing invaluable support to the community on our helpline. Rachel has a lot to be proud of and we love that she embraces and recognises her own achievements, for self-pride is an incredible force that pushes you forward. Read more about Rachel’s journey below, in her own words.

With Edinburgh Pride rapidly approaching I thought it might be a good idea to write a little piece about what makes me proud, not just for one day when we all march together and wave flags, but over the last year?

So, I am proud of my own achievements first and foremost. I have spent the last years living entirely as female apart from 2 days because the plane tickets were booked in my male name. Otherwise I have lived, ate, slept and loved being an out MtF. I have done some pretty amazing but also scary things in that year:

  1. A holiday to the Philippines, a little nerve wracking to be sure.
  2. A trip around the western islands of Scotland, strangely more nerve wracking than the Philippines.
  3. A holiday to Indonesia for two weeks, a level of scary that there are no words adequate to describe.

I am proud of the people I have made friends with who have helped me through the bad days where I have struggled with my depression or anxiety and helped me carry on.

I am proud of myself for reaching out to other people and helping them to come out or to overcome the difficulties they have faced in their everyday lives.

I am proud of my girlfriend for overcoming her personal misgivings and coming to realise that love between two people is love regardless of what body parts they have.

I am proud of all the people I have meet over the last year for the level of acceptance I have received, more than I had ever expected or even dared hope for. I think I have been asked the time, directions, where I got items of clothes from more times in the last years than the previous 45 years living as a male combined. It’s made me realise that although there are still some horrible people out there, 99.99% of the population just want to live their own lives and are happy for you to do the same.

I am proud of the country I live in that, even already being a good place to be LGBTQ+, has made advances to become more open and equal for everyone.

So as we approach the pride season, please reflect on your own year and be proud of yourself.

With love and pride,
Rachel  XXX

Mental Health Awareness Week

Friday, October 19, 2018

Written by our ever amazing volunteer: Lenka Murova.

You might have noticed that conversations around mental health have been more prominent on social media recently. The annual #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek kicked off on Monday 14th of May this year, putting the emphasis on ‘stress’ and how we cope with it. People have been sharing their experiences of struggles and small victories with their mental health which is such an important part of making progress in helping to destigmatise mental health issues, to actually talking about them.

If you find yourself struggling, you might not even realise that it could be due to a mental health issue. I say this from personal experience as I’ve found myself having trouble being in crowds where I would feel like I was suffocating. I would lose motivation and would always find myself tired, not finding joy in the little things I used to. I thought that spontaneously bursting into tears and not being able to breathe seemingly without reason, was just me being overdramatic. So I ignored it, but it kept getting worse and worse and eventually, it felt like I was slowly suffocating.

Thankfully, as I am a child of the internet, I stumbled onto a blog that talked about mental health. I started reading about people’s experiences similar to mine and suddenly, I had a direction where to look for help. I went to see my first therapist when I was sixteen years old. I had no idea what I was doing, I was scared and thought I was making an embarrassing mistake. I am twenty three now and after years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I have words to describe what I can go through: anxiety and depression. Looking back, it should have been obvious but nobody around me has ever talked about this. The environment that I grew up in just made me feel useless and broken for not being able to just ‘get over it’.

So from my experience, raising awareness about mental health is nothing to scoff at. I simply didn’t know and had no idea that mental health was something that needed to be looked after. I thought that having a panic attack was normal for everyone (that or I was just weird). Being aware of your mental health is so important, because having to deal with these issues can be very isolating. After all – it’s just in your head, right? Talking about mental health issues, reading stories from others who struggle with it can all help at making people feel less alone.

Everyone has a unique experience with mental health and there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you think you need to. There are many resources out there that you can turn to. You can be sure of one thing, you are not alone, even if it often feels like it. Looking after yourself isn’t just about taking care of your physical health, it includes your mind as well.

Personally for me, it is important to be surrounded by people who care and understand, so I can build myself a support system. But I also understand that not everyone can have access to one which is why I love the opportunity to volunteer with LGBT Health and Wellbeing. I am so glad I can contribute in a small way to an organisation that focuses on supporting our community by providing a safe space where people can ask for help.

Just like anyone, I have good days and I have bad days, and I am learning to know how to ask for help when I need to. Well I’m trying, so I hope you give yourself the chance to try as well.


Useful resources:

  • At LGBT Health and Wellbeing, we:
    – run a helpline that is open every Tuesdays and Wednesdays, between 12 and 9pm: 0300 123 2523
    – offer one-to-one meetings for people to find out more about mental health supports available and what services might best meet their needs
    – offer counselling
    – a programme of social events promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
  • The Mental Health Foundation has a comprehensive list of different resources and places you can contact to seek help.
  • Campaign organisations like See Me Scotland and Scottish Association for Mental Health create great social media campaigns which people can take ownership of to raise awareness within their community.
  • If you are looking for an interesting conversation and artistic expression that aims to destigmatise mental health, check out Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and their wide variety of events across Scotland.
  • There are also publications that work tirelessly to give voices and provide a platform for stories around mental health that often don’t feature in mainstream narratives:
    Marbles: an independent print magazine
    FearlessFemme: an online magazine for young femme and non-binary people

Service Evaluation Findings 2017

Friday, October 19, 2018

294 people who use LGBT Health took the time to tell us what they thought about our services


“I feel able to dream and envisage my life as a parent, and feel genuinely happy to know there is support and a community for us and our children. Growing up I didn’t have this real sense of potential and fulfilment as a queer woman”

“A sense of community and acceptance/validation, friendships with peers, information and help to progress with transition and improve my mental health, and invaluable support from staff without which I might not still be here”

“I’ve gained so much, my life was undergoing massive change when I first contacted the centre, and they helped me through every step. I was able to come out to my whole family, they helped me through my separation from my opposite sex partner and helped me find resources and activities which have connected me with the community. It’s been a massive help in my life”

We conducted our annual Service Evaluation again in late 2017 to find out more about who uses our services and what you think of them. The survey gave us lots of feedback which will be invaluable in further developing our services. Here is a summary of what you told us:

Key findings

“The staff I meet at events are full of genuine care, spirit and energy, and their friendliness is felt by everyone I see. It shows that your staff and volunteers are dedicated and as a community member I hope that we can keep them. Such a valuable resource.”

“You are incredibly important to many people on so many intricate and interconnected levels that all work together to benefit individuals, the LGBT+ community and society at large. You are essential and awesome”

LGBT Health is engaging with a really wide range of individuals of all ages who identify right across the LGBT spectrum – and beyond

  • 92% of you rated our staff as excellent or very good
  • 83% of you said that you found the quality of our services as excellent or very good
  • 82% of you rated your overall experience of the organisation as excellent or very good

What difference LGBT Health has made for you

  • 80% of you are more confident in seeking support (up from 75% in 2016)
  • 78% of you reported that you feel better about yourselves (up from 69%)
  • 75% of you feel more aware of services (up from 67%)
  • 74% of you report feeling less lonely (up from 69%)
  • 69 % of you feel more connected to your community as a result of using our services
  • 67% report that you have better mental and emotional health (up from 58%)

What you enjoy and value

“I’ve gained a wealth of community support, much more connection to the community, individual support access to resources.”

“A fantastic increase in the connection with the community around me. A huge increase in confidence about not only myself but around and with other people.”

  • Social interaction
  • Sense of community and community support
  • Welcoming and accepting environment
  • Wide range of information and support
  • Improved wellbeing and self- awareness

Your suggestions for improvements and our response

“Continue to provide the excellent service that you do. It was an absolute god send to me when I found out about the range of activities available to me, I am 55 and finally feel part of my community, knowing that you are their makes me feel at ease if I ever needed any help, I know if will be given with compassion and confidentiality. Thank you so much.”

“Continue reaching out to those less aware of you services.”

Access and inclusion

  • We will continue to communicate with you in a range of ways, ensuring that information about what we do is readily available
  • We will continue to look at accessibility of our services and events
  • We are committed to ensuring our services are inclusive and responsive to needs. The service evaluation allows us to continue to monitor our reach into the community

Publicity and promotion

  • In late 2014 we launched our new website and in 2016 we revamped our quarterly programme. In 2017 we reviewed our range of publicity tools and started work on our social media and communication strategy which will continue into 2018.

Range of delivery

  • We will use the feedback from this survey to develop our quarterly programme of events to ensure it remains varied for the whole community.

You also provided a wealth of suggestions for new or repeat activities, which we will certainly refer to as we plan our programme over the coming year.

What you can do for us 

Firstly do keep giving us your feedback, so we can ensure we deliver the services our communities need!  Also, the survey showed that many of you hear about us by word of mouth, which means that you can really help us to reach others by spreading the word.

Many thanks to all of you who responded

Your feedback is invaluable to us!

Annual Feedback Survey 2017

Friday, October 19, 2018

Our 2017 annual survey is now live
and waiting for your feedback.

Each year, we ask everyone who accessed our services (no matter how long or often) to give us their comments on our programme of services, events and groups. This is your chance to let us know what we did well and what we could improve on, including opportunities to suggest future events or groups you’d like to see happen, how to improve our accessibility and many more.

It is also a time for you to reflect on the impact our services had on you. We love to hear about personal journeys and how far you have come. This helps us tailor our services to your needs the best we can. It also helps us collect evidence of needs and gaps to feedback to our funders so we can demonstrate that our services are vital to our local community.

The survey is a vital tool to the organisation and we would really appreciate if you could spare some of your time to complete it. And as a thank you, we want to give you the chance to enter our prize draw and maybe win a £40 voucher of your choice.

To complete the survey, visit the link:
www.bit.ly/LGBTsurvey2017

Deadline: Tuesday 19th December 2017

Thank you for your help.