LGBT+ helpline sees calls double as queer people fear being left with abusive families during coronavirus lockdown

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An LGBT+ charity has said it has seen a huge increase in the number of calls to its helpline since the coronavirus pandemic started.

The UK-based LGBT Foundation said the number of calls received over the last week was more than double the number received in the same period last year.

Worryingly, the charity said countless LGBT+ people are seeking support as they are stuck self-isolating with abusive family and partners.

They also warned that self-isolation means many queer people have been forced back into the closet, while many more have faced severe financial issues due to the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Many LGBT+ people are trapped self-isolating with abusive families and partners during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over a five day period this week, the LGBT Foundation received its highest number of weekly calls to its helpline since the beginning of the year. The organisation said many queer people are experiencing “severe anxiety and concern” over the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, the charity said they are anticipating call volumes to increase again after the UK went into full lockdown this week.

We’ve had people ringing up because they’re concerned about the effect COVID-19 would have on existing health issues.

The helpline, which is currently operating remotely, will soon see opening hours extended into evenings and weekends in order to offer the best care for LGBT+ people who are struggling.

Kayla Le Roux, a staff member on the LGBT Foundation’s helpline, said the huge number of people contacting them shows how difficult a time this is for queer people.

“We’ve had people ringing up because they’re concerned about the effect COVID-19 would have on existing health issues, people calling about being trapped with families or partners who are hostile to them, or just like everyone else scared about what the future holds,” Le Roux said.

“It’s great to be there for people providing that support and to be that lifeline for people, and I hope anyone out there who is feeling worried right now knows that the support is out there for them and we’re just a phone call away.”

The charity warned that some teenagers are stuck at home with abusive parents amid COVID-19 lockdown.

Chief executive of the LGBT Foundation Paul Martin said the spike in calls shows that many LGBT+ people need “reassurance and information in a time of uncertainty and confusion”.

“We are seeing some young LGBT teenagers trapped in their homes with abusive parents and not even school to provide respite, trans people no longer being able to live as the gender they identify due to family pressures and people in same-sex relationships isolated with their abusive partner,” Martin said.

“We’ve also been spending time thinking about the most at risk members of our communities – people over 70, those with underlying health conditions, and those living in domestic abuse situations,” he added.

Martin said he wants all LGBT+ people to know that they are “not alone” and urged queer people who are struggling at this time to contact their helpline.

The LGBT Foundation’s helpline can be contacted on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am-6pm Monday to Friday or by emailing [email protected].