Limerick charity GOSHH provides essential services for queer people in the Midwest

GOSHH aims to promote the mental, emotional, physical and social well-being of everyone they work with.

The exterior of a community centre with the letters GOSHH over the door

GOSHH (Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health and HIV) is a charity based in Limerick, located in Redwood Place on Davis Street. It first opened in 1986, under the name of Gay Switchboard Limerick. It was originally set up as a volunteer support helpline, and over the years, it evolved as a signpost for information and support for members of the LGBTQ+ community and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Even though the services provided at GOSHH are extremely important for the queer community and those living with HIV, the Limerick charity is committed to helping everyone, in any way that they can.

“Anyone can call us, even if they need something that we don’t do, we make it our business to signpost and show them where to go, rather than fobbing someone off,” says Eóin Burke, Outreach Worker at GOSHH. Eóin has worked with the charity since 2021, and specialises in training and personal support, specifically for those struggling with their gender identity.

As an outreach worker, he can travel to clients in rural areas in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. “It’s really nice to be able to reach out to folks who mightn’t be able to access our services in the city.”

Aside from personal training and support, GOSHH provides many other essential services for the community. Anyone can call into GOSHH to avail of free condoms and lube, and they can even be posted out to people for free just by calling, coming in or filling out a form online.

Free testing for STIs is also available, with rapid testing for HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis-C. Rapid tests are carried out in a few minutes, and in the event of a positive result, there are always support workers at hand to help the person. “It’s just a prick on the finger, a few drops of blood and within a few minutes the person knows their results,” says Ann Piercy, Personal Support Worker at GOSHH, specialising in providing support for people living with HIV.

Ann has worked with GOSHH since 2018. As well as training, giving talks and advocacy, a huge part of her role is testing. She says: “We go anywhere that we are asked to go, whether it’s testing in universities, in Direct Provision or primary healthcare centres, and we do test at festivals as well.”

She worked as a carer previously and recalls how she would volunteer at the Limerick charity every Friday: “It was my feel-good Friday; I would come here, and it didn’t feel like I was volunteering because I just loved it. Even though I wasn’t being paid, I knew that this was where I belonged.”

Limerick charity GOSHH celebrating Limerick pride
Limerick charity GOSHH marching to celebrate Limerick Pride (2022)

The organisation also provides free counselling/peer support. In the event that people must be put on a waiting list for the counselling service, there are several members of staff at GOSHH who will have time to regularly meet those placed on a waiting list.

They also supply training, such as sexual health workshops or information stands at events like Freshers Week. GOSHH spearhead awareness campaigns around topics such as consent, sexual wellbeing, and contraception.

There are some amazing support groups that meet regularly at the centre. Two youth workers, Edel Mitchell and Jessica Curtin facilitate support groups for teenagers and young adults. They also run a support group called Genderwise, which can aid people in exploring their gender identity, if they identify as trans or non-binary.

People can sign up for the newsletter on their website, which will let them know about the social events organised by the centre. GOSHH organise many events like coffee mornings, kayaking groups, cycling groups and story-telling workshops. In the building, there are leaflets that cover a broad range of topics, also available in other languages, including Ukrainian.

If you feel like you could benefit from any of the services provided at GOSHH, you can call them on (061) 314 354 or reach out to them by email at [email protected]

Are you looking to get involved with GOSHH? Right now, the centre is appealing for volunteers, especially for testing. The centre will train volunteers who put themselves forward. If you are interested, you can click here:

If you’d like to read more about amazing charities supporting queer people in Ireland, click here:

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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