Hastings and Rother Gay Helpline is 25 years old

AN advice service for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in 1066 Country is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

Hastings and Rother Gay Helpline was formed in 1987 by the Caring Sub-group of the 1066 Gay Community Organisation and called Hastings Befrienders, before changing its name to the Hastings and Rother Gay Helpline.

Roger Sweetman, the helpline’s secretary and founder member, said: “On average we take 150 to 200 calls a year and our main role is to provide empathy and a listening ear for people. We do not make judgment on anyone, instead providing them with information and sign-posting them to other services that can help them. The aim of the helpline is to make LGBT people feel less isolated and organise social gatherings for them where they can make new friends.”

He added the helpline was instrumental in helping set up Hastings and Rother Rainbow Alliance (HRRA).

Mr Sweetman said the Hastings and Rother Gay Helpline had also helped a lot of people who had moved to 1066 Country over the last 25 years.

He said: “Funding for the service has always been difficult to obtain, never more so than it is today, and donations are always welcome. Determined new volunteers are endeavouring to revitalise the helpline, and our new treasurer has been successful in obtaining a grant from Hastings Borough Council’s Seniors Small Grants fund for a new project for LGBT residents, who are aged 50 and over. The grant will pay for events at a St Leonards community centre that will include information sessions, discussions, social get-togethers, and help those attending to make new friends, and will be held on the last Thursday afternoon of each month commencing on May 31 for a year.”

The helpline is planning to mark its 25th year at its AGM, due to take place at the Stade Hall on September 28. For more information, ring 07941 014013, Wednesday, from 7pm to 9pm or out of hours text, voicemail or email hargh@live.co.uk. People can also write to c/o HVA Jackson Hall, Portland Place, Hastings TN34 1QN.