Funding for a counselling helpline in Swansea is urgently needed to prevent potential loss of lives, according to the founder of LGBT+ Cymru Helpline, Debbie Lane. The helpline, which provides therapy and support to individuals including children, has been forced to turn away new referrals due to limited resources. While the helpline has received grants from the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, its operational costs of approximately £150,000 per year require ongoing financial support. The charity expanded its services in 2021 to include heterosexual individuals and was relaunched as Swansea Rainbow Counselling Centre. Half of the helpline’s clients are children and young people. The charity had received additional funding during the pandemic, but it has now come to an end, leaving the helpline at risk of closure. The loss of this vital support could have devastating consequences, warns Debbie Lane, as lives depend on the availability of these services.
The LGBT+ Cymru Helpline, based in Swansea, is facing a critical funding crisis that threatens its ability to provide essential counseling services. Founded in 2004, the helpline has been instrumental in offering therapy and support to individuals, including children, who are grappling with various issues related to their gender identity and sexual orientation. Despite its significant impact, the helpline has had to reject new referrals due to limited resources. This unfortunate situation has led to heartbreak for the founder, Debbie Lane, who had to turn away a family seeking help for their 13-year-old child suffering from gender dysphoria and contemplating suicide. Turning people away has sadly become the norm, and the longer the helpline remains unable to accept new referrals, the higher the risk of lives being lost.
The LGBT+ Cymru Helpline has been a lifeline for countless individuals, with its counseling sessions making a profound difference in their lives. One such success story is Ajax Cole, a gender-fluid individual who reached out to the helpline in 2014 when they were experiencing severe emotional distress and confusion regarding their gender and sexuality. The support they received from the helpline played a crucial role in their journey towards mental well-being. Ajax’s transformation was so remarkable that they were recognized as the Young Person of The Year UK and received an award from Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace. Ajax emphasizes the vital role the helpline played in helping them navigate their darkest moments and learn to manage their suicidal thoughts. Losing this invaluable support system would be a tremendous loss for Wales, especially considering that discrimination and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community still persist.
The helpline’s financial struggles have been exacerbated by competition for funding from other charities, leading to the loss of its office space. The availability of therapy rooms was crucial for the helpline’s volunteers to provide counseling in a safe and confidential environment. However, with limited resources, volunteers have been forced to counsel individuals on the street, as many clients do not have access to computers or virtual platforms. The helpline primarily serves individuals in the moderate to severe need category, and the team in Swansea estimates that they have saved at least 20 lives in the past year alone. The helpline’s founder, Debbie Lane, laments the limited funding available and stresses the urgent need for financial support to sustain the helpline’s operations.
While the helpline has received two grants from the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales, these grants are not sufficient to cover its ongoing costs. The helpline requires approximately £150,000 per year to operate effectively. The National Lottery Community Fund has acknowledged the value of the helpline to the LGBTQ+ community in Swansea and has provided a £10,000 award to help cope with rising costs. Another grant of £10,000 has been allocated to enable the helpline to offer family counseling services. However, these grants fall short of the necessary funding, and the helpline is in the process of applying for a larger grant. The Welsh government recognizes the importance of LGBTQ+ communities being able to access advice and support when needed and supports the helpline’s mission.
The urgency of securing funding for the LGBT+ Cymru Helpline cannot be overstated. Without financial support, this essential counseling service faces the risk of closure, leaving vulnerable individuals without a crucial lifeline. The helpline’s impact on saving lives and supporting individuals in their mental health journey is immeasurable. It is imperative that funding is secured to ensure the helpline can continue its vital work and contribute to Wales’ goal of becoming the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe. Lives are at stake, and the availability of counseling and support services should not be compromised.