This week has seen unprecedented change in the UK as we all respond to the Government’s advice on social distancing and Covid-19.
I’d like to pay tribute to London Friend’s volunteers and staff who have stepped up so admirably to help us adapt to these changing conditions so quickly. Thank you! Your support is incredible. This is a big challenge for a service that works in the way we do.
Almost all of London Friend’s services involve face to face and close contact with others. The very point of many of our groups is to bring LGBT people together and provide opportunities to meet others and socialise together. Around 700 people a year come to one of our support or social groups. We also see up to 100 people each week for one to one counselling or drug and alcohol support.
Inevitably many of our service users will be impacted by not being able to attend a group. Sometimes just knowing you can pop in for a cuppa and a chat with others is enough to help you through the week.
Because we work by providing a safe space for LGBT people to come together, we’ve not previously been set up to provide services remotely. Our staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard this week to respond to the Government’s advice and help us start changing the way we work. Please bear with us as we make these changes and staff begin working from home.
Some of this is already happening: our counsellors and keyworkers are providing telephone or video support remotely where they can, and where it remains safe for our clients to access. They’re also helping us to identify the people who might need some additional support right now.
You can continue to contact us: emailing is best, and we’re setting up mobiles for key staff in contact with clients. The main office number is suspended for now as it’s simply not practical for us to cover this.
Sadly, some of our services are unable to run whist we operate social distancing, so our groups that you would usually just be able to turn up to aren’t running at present. We’re also unable to take new referrals for the counselling service during this time: like so many counselling services, our waiting list is already very long, and it would be several months before we could see you. We’ll keep this under review and will open again as soon as we’re able.
Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time. Our latest updates are available on the website, and we will add links to other sources of support as we become aware of them.
Monty Moncrieff MBE, Chief Executive
20th March 2020