Strengthening Support for LGBTQI+ Youth

Community of Practice Kick-Off Meeting

In September, we were delighted to welcome seven of our European child helpline members and partners to Amsterdam, as part of our LGBTQI+ Community of Practice. The Community of Practice hopes to exchange knowledge on how helplines can best support LGBTQI+ youth.

Funded by the European Commission, the LGBTQI+ Community of Practice aims to further establish child helplines as a key support and information mechanism for LGBTQI+ children and young people. Child helplines across Europe help thousands of LGBTQI+ children and young people each year. Many face challenges regarding discrimination, abuse and mental health and seek advice with issues including ‘coming out’, sexual health and with questions surrounding their identity.

On 26 September 2018, Child Helpline International hosted the Community of Practice kick-off meeting at the Openbare Bibliotheek in Amsterdam. We were joined by representatives from seven of our European helpline members and partners – RFSL Ungdom, The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, Single Step, The Mix, Hrabri Telefon, IGLYO and Kellimni – who are all committed to strengthening helplines response to the issues LGBQTI+ youth face. Held together by this common goal, the Community of Practice took a collaborative and peer-to-peer format, where participants shared their perspectives and experiences on best practices and approaches. Discussions surrounded the power of terminology and labelling, how helpline counsellors can best provide direct support to LGBTQI+ youth, how data is collected and how helplines can promote their services to LGBTQI+ young people who may be in need. The kick-off meeting also raised many questions which we would like to delve further into in LGBTQI+ Community of Practice meetings in the future.

We look forward to these upcoming sessions where we will focus on stakeholder engagement – with a particular focus on how to involve children and young people in decision making – methods of data collection and how to better train volunteers and counsellors.