LGBT Helpline Sees Sharp Increase in Calls for Support During Annual Pride Season

The number of people contacting the LGBT Helpline rises sharply each year during Pride season. That’s according to Paula Fagan, National Coordinator of the Helpline, who was speaking today at the launch of a new partnership with telecommunications company eir.

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The partnership involves eir and the LGBT Helpline running a positive mental health awareness campaign during Dublin Pride Festival from 22nd to 26th June.  The campaign, ‘It’s Good to Talk’, will promote the Helpline’s range of confidential support services to the tens of thousands of LGBT people and their families and friends taking part in Dublin Pride.

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Commenting today, Paula Fagan said: “For most people, Pride is a time of celebration and fun but, for many, it can also be a time when they feel in need of support.  For people who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity or feeling anxious about coming out, Pride season can bring these feelings to the fore.

“For family-members and friends of LGBT people, Pride can be the time for them to seek additional information about LGBT issues, or to reach out for support around their or a loved one’s LGBT identity.  Pride season shines a spotlight on the LGBT community, and that always results in a spike in the numbers contacting our helpline.”

In 2015, the LGBT Helpline received over 4,500 contacts during the week of Pride, 2.5 times more than the average weekly number.  In 2014, the figures were even starker: the Helpline received 4,080 contacts during Pride, making it four times busier than any other week that year.

Support for Attendees at Dublin Pride

As part of ‘It’s Good to Talk’, the LGBT Helpline and eir will have a highly-visible presence in the Dublin Pride Parade on 25th June and a large tent at the Pride Village, where Helpline volunteers will be on hand to provide emotional support and information to anyone who needs it.  The Helpline’s regular telephone and online support services will also operate throughout Pride.

Commenting on the partnership with eir, Paula Fagan praised the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.  “Historically, LGBT people faced significant discrimination in the workplace, with many feeling they needed to hide their sexuality at work, for fear it would impact on their career or that they would be judged by their colleagues,” she said.  “This still causes anxiety for many of those who contact our services each year.

“Thankfully, however, the situation is improving.  eir is one of the many Irish workplaces doing excellent work in promoting inclusivity and diversity, and supporting LGBT employees.

“Having a supportive workplace can make a real difference to people’s self-esteem and mental wellbeing.  With ‘It’s Good to Talk’, eir is demonstrating its strong commitment not only to diversity but also to positive mental health.”

eir’s Work on Promoting Diversity

Speaking about its partnership with the LGBT Helpline, Orla Coughlan, Chief Human Resource Officer with eir, said: “We are delighted to partner with the LGBT Helpline to raise awareness of the vital services they provide nationwide.  Being able to talk with trained volunteers can be a critical support for those going through difficult times and that’s the message we want to get across with this campaign, ‘It’s Good to Talk’.

“Last year, we launched our first LGBT network, eir Spectrum; a fully inclusive team of LGBT employees and straight allies working together.  The goal for this team is to continue to support an environment and raise awareness of eir as a company where everyone can bring their whole selves to work and where all employees are respected for what they, as individuals, bring to the eir team.”

Minister Katherine Zappone

Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and long-time champion for LGBT rights, officially launched ‘It’s Good to Talk’ at eir’s headquarters in Dublin today.  Anna Nolan and Brendan Courtney were also on hand to lend their support to the campaign. 

Case Studies

A number of eir employees shared their personal experiences during today’s launch, including Stuart Coleman, a Process and Engagement Manager with eir for 15 years, who volunteers with the LGBT Helpline in his spare time.

“I think there has been a huge shift in workplace attitudes over recent years,” he said.  “The marriage equality referendum had a huge impact – it brought the conversation into every workplace in Ireland.

“The best thing a company can do for their LGBT employees is to foster a culture that is diverse and inclusive, ensuring that if an employee choses to come out at work, they will be welcomed. This ultimately makes for happier and more productive employees.”

Approximately 150 eir employees will join the ‘It’s Good to Talk’ float in the Pride Parade on 25th June, alongside staff and volunteers from the LGBT Helpline.  Further information about ‘It’s Good to Talk’ is available at www.lgbt.ie.

Extended LGBT Helpline Opening Hours in the Wake of Orlando Tragedy

At today’s launch, Paula Fagan also outlined how the LGBT Helpline will be extending its opening hours this week in the wake of the mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible tragedy, in particular the families and loved ones of the shooting victims,” she said.  “This is obviously a hugely traumatic event for the LGBT community.  Our helpline will have extended opening hours this week, and anyone in need of support can contact us on 1890-929-539 or through our website, www.lgbt.ie.”

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