Do you sometimes feel like you can’t cope?
Life can be tough sometimes but lucky for us, the wonderful folks at Dublin Lesbian Line are on hand to listen!
The importance of the DLL for our community
It’s been 38 years since the Dublin Lesbian Line first opened its doors and they have since given advice and support to countless LGBT+ peeps across generations. Some of the biggest issues they have found in the past couple of years have been in mental health and sexual health.
Laura is one of the amazing volunteers at the Dublin Lesbian Line and she spoke with us to tell us about the reasons behind conducting the survey and why it is important that they get as many responses as possible.
“Our community’s mental health is something we are really passionate about. One of our main focuses as an organisation, has long been that of female sexual health. This is a topic we are seeing a big change in; when I first started, DLL had just finished a fairly unsuccessful sexual health campaign. People weren’t ready to talk about sex. However, over the last few years we have seen a huge change in women’s willingness to talk about sexual health. For DLL, sexual health is about the whole person and their experience; from consent and communication, to pleasure, to safer sex and sexual health checks, and everything in between. We are the only organisation in the country that delivers comprehensive female sexual health training.”
“We are currently unfunded. We are working really hard on exploring our options, but our finances will only take us as far as February 2018. By then we will either have sourced funding and will be launching new and updated supports or we will be closing. Please stand with us by filling in this survey. Have your voice heard and make it count!”
“Despite being called Dublin Lesbian Line, our callers are rarely lesbians from Dublin! Our callers like to connect with another female on the phone; people think you can only ring a helpline in a crisis but for people who are living in isolation or who are not able to express themselves in public, being able to connect with another woman, even someone who has a different identity, background and experience to you, can be invaluable. We don’t judge, don’t give advice and we are there to listen; whether you are a trans woman trying to figure out what your measurements would be in what is considered female clothing or whether you are in crisis and feel like you can’t go on. ”
In recent years, DLL have found that the ways in which people look to the Dublin Lesbian Line for support is changing and they have been trying out different forms of support since 2014 to meet this demand:
“For over a year we facilitated the LGBT+ helplines married women’s peer support group, we run an annual mental health festival, we have offered tailored training to organisations and companies, and we have facilitated the LGBT Women’s Wellness workshops which have been so successful in Outhouse since 2016.”
DLL welcome female-identified volunteers, trans women, non-binary and gender queer volunteers. If you would like to become a volunteer, you can join their mailing list to be informed when they are taking on new recruits.
“I am in my eighth year volunteering with DLL and I can say it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. While we don’t get many calls, every call makes it worth it. It is also hugely empowering being part of an all female organisation. In a lot of spheres, women’s voices are not heard, and are not represented. Even within our community, there are only two support organisations in the whole country dedicated to LGBTQI women (DLL and LinC in Cork). Our mental and sexual health are overlooked in supports and services in the LGBT+ community and in wider society. Being a part of DLL is rewarding on an individual-support level, when you know that because you went into your shift a person got to be heard, got to connect with someone from their community, but I always feel it’s so rewarding just being a part of DLL and what we represent. It is a very unique experience, I can’t really describe it. Empowering and wonderful sum it up I guess!”
“There are lots of fantastic helplines with LGBT+ volunteers, such as Gay Switchboard and the LGBT Helpline. Over the last number of years the number of people calling our direct number has decreased and we want to find out if it is still important for people to know that they will get through to somebody female identified or not.”
Voice Your Opinions
As a community, LGBT+ individuals tend to be more vulnerable to mental health problems and one of the best tools at your disposal is being able to talk to someone about it. Dublin Lesbian Line provides a vital safe space for the community to do just that and it is important that they know how to be as widely accessible as possible.
“Mental health and sexual health are what we think are big issues for the women of our community; this is why it is important that as many people as possible fill in the survey – the more people who tell us what their concerns are and where they would like support, the more targeted a service we can make ourselves.”
“There is a general misconception that all the women of our community are ‘grand’. That stereotype that women talk to each other about everything has lead to a feeling that why would lgbtqi women need support – when surely everyone is talking to each other about their feelings? Our experience is that is not the case for a lot of people.”
A lot of people filling in this survey will hopefully help us to show funders that these concerns are real for our community, and hopefully help us to fund projects and services to address these major gaps in service provision.
“Similarly, one of the reasons there is so little for LGBTQI women in terms of sexual health (having to make our own dental dams because you can’t even buy them in Ireland for one!) is because while men who have sex with men have historically been hyper-sexualised by society and the media, women who have sex with women have been desexualised to the extent where our sex is not considered sex.”
“Not being able to access dental dams is one thing, but women are often told they don’t need smear tests or STI checks, and there is no data on sexual health of LGBTQI women in Ireland. A lot of people filling in this survey will hopefully help us to show funders that these concerns are real for our community, and hopefully help us to fund projects and services to address these major gaps in service provision.”
DLL want to know what you want from them! Fill out a 5 minute, anonymous survey and you’ll be helping to shape DLL’s future. Please share and encourage others to fill it in also, the more opinions they receive, the better able they will be to provide a service tailored to the community that uses it! Today is the last day to complete it, your support is greatly appreciated!
They are non-funded so please donate to them if you can!
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