Frequently asked questions
What are the rules about staying at home and social isolation?
Current advice is that we should all stay at home if we can, only go to work if we can do so safely and keep a distance of at least 2 metres for other people if we do. Information on the stay at home guidance can be found here. There is also specific information for people who are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection and information for those who are extremely vulnerable who are advised to ‘shield’ and completely isolate. At some point the lockdown will start to be lifted but it will remain important to keep following or, where possible, exceeding, government advice to ensure we don’t experience a second wave of infections.
Where can I find information on support provided by LGBT+ organisations?
Stonewall has compiled a useful list of organisations that can support LGBT people at this time, and also has an information service which anyone can access on 0800 0502020. Lines are open 9:30 – 4:30 Monday to Friday (answerphone available outside these hours), or email firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBT+ organisations are continuing to provide advice support and information online and many of them have increased the range of online services they offer.
LGBT Helpline Scotland works to improve the health, wellbeing and equality of LGBT people in Scotland. You can call, email or chat with them via their LiveChat service. They are also running a digital social programme online over the next few months, find out more here.
Switchboard LGBT is a national charity that listens to LGBT+ people, providing a lifeline and calm words to those who need them. You can get in touch about anything on the phone, via email, or the live chat.
The Intercom Trust are a regional LGBT+ charity providing support to LGBT+ individuals and families in the South West. They are currently providing a confidential helpline service and other remote support, find out more here.
Birmingham LGBT have a helpline you can call if you need to speak to someone or are struggling with isolation.
There are specific services who support LGBT+ young people:
The Proud Trust is an LGBT+ charity for young people which has an online tool to find your local youth group, many of whom have created virtual alternatives. You can search for trans-specific, BAME-specific and LGBT+-specific groups through the tool.
Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre is a London based organisation that delivers a range of services to support young LGBT+ people aged 13-19. Check their website, get in touch with them via email, or text / WhatsApp them on 07550124393.
Gendered Intelligence is a trans youth work charity that provides peer support groups, youth worker-led sessions and activities for young trans (including non-binary) people and gender questioning people. They’ve adapted to provide some online services, with updates about other services. You can contact their support line and see their online training.
Childline is a charity that supports children and young people under 18. You can call or email them for free. You can contact them on 0800 1111, even if you don’t have credit on your phone, and it won’t show up on your phone bill. They have tips and information about coronavirus.
There are also specific services who support older LGBT+ people:
Opening Doors London is a charity for older LGBT people who have a free telefriending (telephone befriending) service that anyone aged over 50 can access.
LGBT Age work with LGBT people aged 50 and over in Greater Glasgow and the Lothians. They are currently holding a free telephoning befriending service for LGBTQ+ people over 50. They are also sending out a weekly newsletter to LGBTQ+ older people.
Age UK is a charity for older people that has guidance during this period, and a free, independent advice line open every day from 8am-7pm. They also offer telefriending services for those aged 60 and over.
How can I get mental health support?
The COVID-19 crisis, and the lockdown specifically, are have a negative impact on many people’s mental health. Having to isolate ourselves can increase anxiety and depression and it’s not as easy to get support as it used to be. There are plenty of online options available to help though.
MindOut, the LGBT advocacy and online support charity for those facing mental health issues is continuing to run their services.
For advice and support you can call the LGBT Foundation helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 between 10 and 6pm or email Helpline@lgbt.foundation. For more information on the support LGBT Foundation is offering at this time please visit: http://lgbt.foundation/coronavirus/remote-services
Samaritans is a confidential free service open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for people in crisis, their free phone number is 116 123
Shout are a text crisis service for those in a personal crisis who need support. Texts are free on all major networks including EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer.
There is also lots of information about how you can prevent your mental health from getting worse during the lockdown. Public Health England has published guidance on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety UK can help if you are feeling anxious, they have online support groups and access to webinars. Good Thinking is an NHS approved service promoting proactive self-care for anxiety, low mood, sleeping difficulties and stress where you can use their self-assessment tool for personalised recommendations. The Mental Health Foundation also has information about looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. The government’s website has a guide to how you can help your mental health and wellbeing and information on where to get further support. Mind have tips on how to stay well if you’re self-isolating at home. The NHS website Every Mind Matters has advice and tips for looking after your mental health; they also offer 10-minute exercises and recipes and indoor activities for kids at Change 4 Life . The Sleep Council have tips to manage your anxiety and improve sleep.
What specific advice and support is there for trans (including non-binary) people?
Gendered Intelligence is a trans youth work charity which provides peer support groups, youth worker-led sessions and activities for young trans (including non-binary) people and gender questioning people. They’ve adapted to provide some online services, with updates about other services. CliniQ provide a range of mental health and well-being services. TransgenderNI advocate for and fund work for trans people in Northern Ireland. They shared some safety and wellbeing tips for those binding at the moment. The What the Trans podcast caters to the needs of trans, intersex and non-binary people. To combat isolation, they’ve set up a discord server for chats, gaming, and community-building.
What should I do if I’m worried about accessing my hormone treatment or the Gender Identity Service?
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, services across the NHS have had to change significantly, with most routine work being paused or delivered in a different way: avoiding face-to-face appointments and doing more work virtually or online. GPs are still delivering care so hormone prescriptions should continue and arrangements made to give hormone injections. Gender Identity Clinics have had to pause new appointments and move to undertaking appointments over the phone or by video consultation. Trans Health UK has produced information and advice for trans people about gender identity clinics and, recognising that different clinics are taking a different approach, has a list of all clinics so you can see what your service is able to offer and find out how to contact them as you should also be able to get advice from the website of your Gender Identity clinic or by calling them. For example, the Gender Identity in London has information about their services during COVID, specific advice about hormone therapy and advice for GPs about prescribing hormones and doing blood tests. As the situation with COVID-19 starts to settle down and the lockdown is slowly lifted clinics should be able to start doing face-to-face appointments again – but they may be limited due to the need to maintain social distancing.
I don’t feel safe at home – where can I find help?
The lockdown during the COVID-19 outbreak has meant that some people have been forced to stay in LGBT-phobic environments. LGBT+ charities have seen a rise in calls from people who do not feel safe where they are living or report being in hostile or abusive homes. We are also seeing worrying increasing reports of domestic violence. If you don’t feel safe where you live – know that you are not alone and there is help and support available. Galop, which is a national LGBT+ anti-violence charity has a domestic abuse helpline. You can call them on 0800 999 5428. Find out more information on their website. They have a dedicated trans advocacy helpline as well. The Albert Kennedy Trust supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment.
If you are in a domestic abuse situation, reach out to organisations, helplines and charities such as Safe Lives, Women’s Aid or Refuge. Apps like Bright Sky also have information and support and Gov.uk has also issued specific advice
When reporting domestic abuse:
- Call the police on 999 in an emergency.
- When you call 999, if you are unable to speak due to being in a dangerous situation, you can press 55 after the 999 call has been answered and it will alert police to the call being made by someone in danger and will respond to it.
- Emergency SMS provides a text message service for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people in the UK to send SMS messages to the UK 999 service where it will be passed to the Police: emergencysms.org.uk
There is also lots of advice and support available if you’re facing homelessness. Shelter has specific advice for those facing eviction, rent or mortgage payment problems and repossession, homelessness and domestic abuse. The Albert Kennedy Trust support young people facing or experiencing homelessness or a hostile environment. They released this update on how to access services. The Outside Project has opened a virtual hub. Stonewall Housing ensures LGBT people can live in safer homes free from fear. Their free, confidential advice line and self-referral systems are still running. They also have simple guidelines for self-isolating.
I am struggling with my finances – where can I get help?
COVID-19 has meant that many people have lost their jobs or are unable to work and have seen their income drop. Citizens Advice has advice, which is regularly updated, for people whose work is affected by COVID-19. You may be able to apply for Universal Credit. The Trussell Trust has information on how to find a foodbank. You can also get support without having to go out from the Queercare food networking support page and this network of local mutual aid groups supports communities to look out for one another. SWARM has set up a hardship fund for sex workers. Contact email@example.com or @sexworkhive on Twitter to find out how they can help.
I haven’t found an answer or the right organisation, yet. Who else can I contact?
For people living with cancer, Live Through This supports LGBTQ+ people living with cancer and offer advocacy and support. They’ve taken some of their peer support services online, so get in touch to access these opportunities.
For disabled LGBT people Regard is the national organisation for LGBT disabled people that has produced guides for Disabled and older people, featuring advice for food shopping, as well as how to cope with extended isolation.
For questions about Sexual Health Terrence Higgins Trust has provided specific advice on sex and sexual health during the lockdown, and FAQs for people taking PrEP and PrEPster has information and advice on a range of issues during COVID-19.
For families with children there is guidance for children receiving free school meals. Place2be has a guide to help parents answer questions from their children and to support family wellbeing. Young Minds has advice about talking to your child about Coronavirus. Their Parents Helpline is open Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm, 0808 802 5544 or email them. There are also useful FAQs from Maternity Action about rights and benefits during pregnancy and maternity.
For refugees and asylum seekers PHE has information on migrant health NHS entitlements. Micro Rainbow is a charity that works for a future free from discrimination, with a specific focus on providing safe housing for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. Their advice services, including their helplines, are still open for those who need their help. Rainbow Home North East is a charity that provides information and support to LGBT asylum seekers and to those who have been granted leave to remain but are not yet settled. They work in the North East of England covering Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, Gateshead, Durham, Stockton-on-Tees and Middlesbrough. Find out more here. The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group supports those seeking asylum. They offer legal advice, and can support you during this time of uncertainty.
If you are looking for information about COVID in languages other than English, Doctors of the World is international medical care charity which has worked with British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice to translate NHS guidance into 51 languages, which is continuously being updated.
We hope you find this information useful. If you are an organisation providing support that we have not listed or if you are looking for information that is not provided here please let us know.