The Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service’s (GLCS) move to their new home at Newtown has been made a lot easier, thanks to a grant from Brambles Community Reach in recognition of their contribution to the community.

The grant, which will assist in the fit-out of their new premises, has been a big financial boost for the GLCS.

It means that our fit-out is now going to be boosted by $10,000, so it’s covered that shortfall for turning the premises into something really special, GLCS co-president Baden Chalmers said.

The GLCS provides telephone counselling and coming-out groups for people questioning their sexuality, as well as services for their friends and families. The move to a larger home will help the GLCS keep up with the high demand for their services.

They’re in such high demand that we actually take less calls than we receive, Chalmers said.

The larger building allows more telephone counsellors to work at the same time, while also providing for a community meeting space and training facilities. They share the building with the gay and lesbian youth accommodation service Twenty10, which allows the two organisations to save money in administration and overhead costs.

Luke Edmunds, a GLCS volunteer and Brambles employee, has been a volunteer phone counsellor for more than a year, and said his time there has been an extremely positive experience.

Since I’ve been a part of the Counselling Service I’ve made a lot of friends, he said. I really enjoy working on the phone -“ it just really helps me help other people.

Edmunds said that counsellors receive a variety of calls, from advice on coming out to sexual health and other general enquiries.

The most enjoyable calls are parents ringing up asking whether or not they’re going insane, he said. It’s really nice to talk to them and get their point of view, and it’s quite enlightening as well.

The GLCS can receive up to 30 calls per night, but due to high demand, not every call for assistance can be answered. More volunteers are always needed, and according to Edmunds, it is time well spent.
I’d totally encourage other people to volunteer. It’s not hard work and it’s really rewarding, he said.

Along with telephone counselling, the GLCS runs men’s and women’s coming-out groups at their Newtown premises. People at various stages in the coming-out process attend the groups, which cover such topics as relationships, meeting people, sex and religion. About 10 to 20 people attend the groups, which also include social activities. The men’s coming-out group is held every Sunday at 3pm, while the women’s group is held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, starting at 7pm.

The GLCS recently changed its operating hours to keep up with demand. The telephone counselling line is now open from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, seven days a week. Those requiring telephone counselling or details about one of the coming-out groups can call 8594 9596 (Sydney) or 1800 184 527 (rural and regional NSW).

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service can call their administration office on 8594 9500 between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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