This year, QVC UK will be showcasing a small selection of carefully chosen charities to help raise awareness of their important work and to show support for those communities. Right now, we’re celebrating Pride Month and shining a light on Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, one of the UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ charities.
Since launching, they’ve answered over three million calls and it costs the charity £6 to answer each one. A Switchboard volunteer listening shift lasts three hours, with an average of five calls per shift, so that means it costs £30 to support just one volunteer shift.
We had a virtual catch up with Stephanie Fuller from the charity to find out more.
Can you tell us a bit about Switchboard and the work that you do?
Switchboard is one of the UK’s longest running charities serving the LGBT+ communities. As a national helpline, we serve on average 18,000 callers a year across phone, instant messaging and email, all our calls are handled by trained listening volunteers. However you need to reach us, you can, from 10am-10pm every day.
Why are charities like Switchboard still important today?
Whilst we were established to provide vital signposting and information to LGBT+ communities, we are a service open to all. Every call is unique, and Switchboard prides itself on responding to the changing needs of our communities by providing a service that’s continually evolving and relevant. Sadly, we are receiving an increasing number of calls across all our platforms and we know that there are still many people that have not yet become aware of the support our service could offer them.
What are the key themes/issues raised by those who contact Switchboard?
We talk to people from all across the UK, wishing to discuss issues ranging from sexuality, gender identity, mental and sexual health, isolation and more. Whether this is a personal challenge or one facing a friend or family member, we are a confidential, non-directive service – we don’t tell people what to do and we don’t judge. We’re here to listen and support people to make informed decisions for themselves.
What would you say to someone who is finding it hard to take that step in reaching out for support?
Do give us a call, we’ve been here since 1974 and have spoken to millions of people, and we are here for you too. Without judgement, just here to listen across phone, email and instant messenger.
As a friend/partner/family member of an LGBTQ+ identifying person, how can we help them feel supported day-to-day?
Include them, as many people from our community experience rejection. Support them by using their preferred pronouns when appropriate, and celebrate the good days with them just as you would anyone else. Be supportive of events such as Pride Month, LGBT History Month and call out LGBT+phobia when you encounter it.
If you want to find out more about Switchboard visit their website and look out for our Inside QVC Podcast coming up in July too, where we’ll be chatting to Natasha Walker from Switchboard in the first episode of our Making a Difference Together mini-series.
The work that this charity carries out is vital for so many within the LGBTQ+ community and their family and friends, and donations are much needed. So do join with us to support Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline and help in any way you can.