Call: 0115 9348485
Text: 07481 344040
Registered Charity number 1114273
Formerly Nottingham & Notts Lesbian & Gay Switchboard
Volunteering and other ways of helping
We welcome new volunteers, particularly women and people from all ethnic groups.
You will need to use a database, expect to deal with a wide range of issues, have a sympathetic phone manner and respect the confidentiality of all callers. If you feel that you could help us with your time and skills, call us for further details.
To become a volunteer, you yourself must be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. You will need to take part in our Training Programme – which usually begins in the Autumn of each year, though some years there is also a Spring training programme. Because of Covid 19 restrictions, there will be no training until 2021.
Those who successfully complete their training are expected to staff the helpline about twice a month and attend a monthly general meeting.
The service is operated from our office at 35 Park Row, Nottingham. .
We ask our volunteers to agree to a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
Volunteers are also encouraged to get involved in those additional areas that are needed to keep the Network functioning: fundraising; training new volunteers; representing the Network at various meetings; staffing stalls at Pride and elsewhere; being a "reporter" for our bimonthly newsletter
Our Training Programme
We usually have a training programme towards the end of each year. Sometimes there is a second programme in late Spring. The sequence of training is as follows:
1. People who are interested in volunteering are asked to fill in a brief questionnaire.
2. Those who return the questionnaire are invited for a two-way interview shortly before the formal training begins. It's "two-way" because we will ask you a few questions, but then allow time for you to ask us what you need to know about Switchboard.
3. Formal training takes place, usually as full day sessions on a couple of Sundays.
4. Training then continues "on the job" as you begin to deal with phone calls, e-mails, texts and letters under supervision. The different skills or "competencies" need to deal with the work successfully are assessed by those doing the supervision. When you have achieved all the "competencies", you will be accepted as a trained volunteer.
5. We occasionally have extra training sessions on specific subjects and also many of our monthly General Meetings include an element of training.
Apart from the satisfaction of helping those who contact us, what else do volunteers get out of being involved?
learning new skills
use skills that you already have in new contexts
using experience on CVs
meeting other like-minded volunteers
take part in social activities
making new friends
network with people from other voluntary and statutory organisations
being among the first to hear about important new developments
Other ways of helping. We always need
Up-to-date and accurate information about local groups, venues and events.
Donations or fund-raising ideas to help us continue our work. It is extremely difficult to raise the few thousand pounds a year we need.
Feedback (positive or negative) about the effectiveness of our service.
You can download an online application form by clicking HERE
Volunteers should not expect to be taking frequent phone calls.The majority of our contacts are not by phone. They are firstly by e-mail and, to a lesser extent by social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter), texting and instant messaging.
The phone calls that we do get divide into three types.
•Calls from a handful of people who phone in regularly, often with the same issues
•New people with enquiries which cover a range of concerns and some of them involve very complex issues
Complex issues also arrive by e-mail etc and not being able to get instant feedback makes these harder to deal with than via phone calls.
The major change in the reason why people contact us is that we are now seen as a route through which people can draw the attention of the local LGBT+ community to something which they are doing. This may be:
•Opening a new venue
•Starting a new social group
•Attracting members to an existing group
•Putting on a one-off event
•Pointing out an LGBT-related event at a local theatre/cinema
•Asking for participants in an academic survey
•Asking for comments on a plan by, say, Nottingham City Council
•Asking for people to attend a focus group
We can, for example, publicise things on our own Facebook page, on Twitter etc and also in our bimonthly newsletter QB.
All these things allow us to make a valuable input into the local LGBT+ community. We still get complex and sometimes distressing phone calls, but they are infrequent.