What to expect in the LGBTQIA+ group

“I’m thinking of joining the LGBTQIA+ group but I have questions…”

Perhaps you have been to some of our other groups or maybe this is the first time you have ever been to one of our peer support groups. It’s perfectly normal to have questions and maybe even some nerves. Our LGBTQIA+ wellbeing group runs in the same way as our other groups, however, this group is only for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ or are questioning and is run by LGBTQIA+ facilitators. As we are a peer support service, most of the people who work and volunteer with Changes Bristol have their own lived experience of mental health difficulties. 

We hope that being in a space where you are around people who are part of your community will reduce the need to have to explain certain things about yourself as there will be some common understanding already. Of course, everyone is unique, but for many of us, we are likely to have experienced some form of discrimination and struggle simply to be ourselves.

We ask anyone who has not joined our online groups before to complete our membership form so we are able to send the weekly links to access the group. You can fill that out by clicking here. We also want to ensure that we are protecting your confidentiality by creating a controlled safe space.

“This is a space to speak freely about your feelings and experiences

Once you have completed our membership form, we will add your details to our mailing list as quickly as we can. We will send you an email on Friday evenings at 6pm which will include the links to all of our online groups for the following week. Sometimes our emails have a naughty habit of going to spam/ junk mail so if it’s not in your inbox, have a check there.

On the day and time of the group, you can click onto the Zoom link and you will be added to the waiting room. When the group begins, you will be admitted to the group.

Going to your first group can be scary and you may have lots of questions about what to expect. If you feel like this, it is completely understandable and very common.

If you have never been to this group before, we are giving first time members the opportunity to join the group 15 minutes before it starts so you can chat to our facilitators and any other new members who may join. If you would like to do this, please email service@changesbristol.org.uk at least two hours before the meeting so our facilitators can admit you into the group early. 

Our facilitators will be waiting for you to join and will greet you as you enter. They will have their names and pronouns written on the screen. You can also add your name and pronouns too by pressing the participants option on the screen, find your name and click on the more option and then rename.

Our facilitators will then introduce themselves and will go through some ground rules for the group which include respecting everyone’s confidentiality and so on. 

They will then go around and ask everyone to share their name (and pronouns if you’re happy to share them). You don’t need to use your real name if you don’t want to but we do ask that you use the same name each time you come to a meeting. We ask all members to keep their camera on throughout the group as a way to ensure that all members feel comfortable knowing who they are talking to. You may be nervous to reveal your identity but we ask all members to keep anything they hear within the group confidential and not share it with anyone outside of the group.

Each member will then be given the opportunity to talk if you want to. Some people may prefer not to talk in their first meeting and that is absolutely fine, you are more than welcome to observe and see how the group works. The amount of time you will have to talk will completely depend on the size of the group that night. If you do decide that you would like to share, other members may wish to reflect on what you have said once you have finished talking. 

When sharing, we want you to feel safe to talk about anything that is on your mind. Often, people like to share what has been going on in their week but this is not a rule and you are free to talk about anything. You may be struggling with your mental health or wellbeing, you may be questioning your gender or sexual orientation or you may be experiencing something else, but this is a space to speak freely about your feelings and experiences.

We normally take a short break at around the halfway point of the group where you can stretch your legs and get a drink. We then come back together and continue with sharing. 

If the group is a bit smaller that evening, our facilitators may offer to go through some of our modules which can include anything from tips to raising your self esteem, loneliness through to tips for increasing resilience. 

The chat function will be available and if you would like to share something with our facilitators privately, you are able to do so.

Naturally, we want this to be a safe space and somewhere where you can speak without being interrupted, therefore, our facilitators will ask you to mute your microphone when you are not sharing. 

We ask that you stay in the group until the end of the meeting out of respect for the other members rather than speaking and then leaving.

There is something very powerful about coming together as a community and we hope that this experience will not only give you an opportunity to speak openly about how you feel but that it will also give you the opportunity to feel closer to others. 

Whilst the group is of course there to speak about anything you are feeling, we like to end the group on a positive note and our facilitators will ask if there is anything in particular that you are grateful for.

We really do hope that you decide to join us in this group and that you get a lot out of it. We receive a lot of positive feedback from people who use our services and we are very proud to facilitate this group.

If you do have any questions about the group before you join us, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact Steven who is our LGBTQIA+ Lead by emailing steven@changesbristol.org.uk or phone our office on 0117 941 1123.

Feel free to take a look at some of our other LGBTQIA+ pages by clicking on the images below.

Green background, text reads 'why an lgbtqia+ group'
Orange background, text reads 'what to expect from the lgbtqia+ group'
Pink background, text reads 'pronouns'
Teal graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Sign up'
Orange background, text reads 'volunteer'
Purple graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Pride flas and definitions'
Teal graphic with the Changes logo and text reading 'Coming out'

How can I volunteer?

If you’d like to be a volunteer with Changes Bristol, there are various services you can support.

If you would like to help facilitate any of our Peer support groups, including any of our Safe Space groups, please email info@changesbristol.org.uk

You can also support us as a Befriender in our Befriending Service or volunteer for our Walk and Talk Service. You can email befriending@changesbristol.org.uk for more information.

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Barton Hill Settlement
41-43 Ducie Road
Lawrence Hill

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