A helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is unable to answer all of its queries due to a lack of volunteers.
The LGBT helpline dealt with 2,500 queries last year but could have answered “four times that amount” if it had more volunteers, helpline coordinator Paula Fagan said today.
The service provides confidential support to LGBT people, their families and friends and those questioning if they are LGBT.
Despite progress in advancing equality “many still encounter difficulties in relation to their orientation or gender identity,” said Ms Fagan,
The helpline is particularly looking for an increase in female and older volunteers in the recruitment drive which it began today.
“At present, we have five times more men volunteering than women,” Ms Fagan said.
Just 13 per cent of the helpline’s callers last year were female. Ms Fagan hopes to increase the helpline hours to better suit female callers and volunteers with parenting and caring responsibilities.
She called for older members of the LGBT community who may have taken early retirement to get involved.
“Older LGBT people face specific challenges and, therefore, may need additional support.
Some older people 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, such as moving into residential care”, Ms Fagan said.
The helpline is open for 16 hours a week and aims to expand its opening hours with the recruitment drive.
Volunteers complete six weeks training and are asked to give four hours minimum per month in one of the service’s six locations.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the helpline can email [email protected] or call the helpline number 1890 929 539. The helpline is open Mondays 7-9pm Tuesday & Wednesday: 6-9pm