Searching for services
Whether an LGBT specific or mainstream service, finding the right help and support you need at the best of times can be frustrating and time-consuming. It's one of the reasons why MEN R US was built in the first place. Services are not universally available or accessible - often more difficult to find outside larger towns and cities.
Throw COVID-19 into the mix and it’s another layer to get through as services have moved online or closed temporarily.
Insert the following into the search browser:
- the nearest town or city followed by
- the words LGBT or gay and/ or HIV followed by
- the words support or service and/ or peer support
For example, Norwich gay support or Chester LGBT peer support
MEN R US volunteers have been tracking down services for years and, even today, we are surprised what these keyword combos results find. Also ...
- Contacting an HIV or LGBT+ organisation in your region or area can be a good place to start. While they may not be able to help you specifically they usually know what’s going on locally
- An LGBT helpline may be able to signpost, like LGBT+ Switchboard
- Feel free to email us. This link takes you to our contact page
Some of us prefer gay or gay-friendly services which, as a rule, are much better understanding the issues affecting our lives, and the context. Others are happy to access mainstream services. Truth is, issues like this affect many LGBT+ people accessing health services generally at a time when there is less funding and more cuts than ever before.
In larger towns and cities, some sexual health services, drug and LGBT+ mental health, local authority services are working together to provide better-integrated support. Most health services aim to be welcoming, respectful, knowledgeable, and understanding. The thing is to find a service that’s right for you.
Consider you or a friend phoning a service first to check if the ‘vibe’ feels right.
Some of these questions may seem a little direct (kind-of the point) and you may have some of your own:
- “Would you say your service is LGBT+ friendly?”
- “Does you have a service specifically for gay/ bi men?”
- “Have staff had training gay men’s health and LGBT+ issues?”
- Check out the service’s website? Are ‘LGBT’, ‘gay’ and/ or ‘men who have sex with men’ (MSM) mentioned?
It’s understandable why you might feel your GP won’t have the knowledge and expertise they need but they should be able to be supportive and/ or signpost you to someone who can. This might include a drug or counselling service though these are unlikely to be gay-specific. GPs are also the ‘gateway’ to local health services you so developing a relationship with your GP is potentially very helpful.
Can you talk with a friend you trust?
Perhaps the first step in getting help may be talking to someone you trust, a friend, a sex bud … even the ex. Some of the best support can still be found within our own community.