Thursday, December 2, 2010

Schools Out Xmas Update

School's Out is just about to wrap up for the festive season. We had guest speakers Jo, Carl and Laressa talk on topics such as suicide & depression, drugs & alcohol and youth. Last week for the city group we didn't plan anything and just hung out and ate cheese and bread.

The numbers have been lower due to exams but the Paraparaumu group has been going well with consistent numbers attending weekly. We have been covering a variety of topics including having a local health nurse do a safe sex talk with the requisite graphic pictures of gonorrea, herpes and a 'trike' infection. We also got to swab a plastic cervix and learned how to make a dental dam with a common everyday condom.

Tomorrow there'll be a picnic in Waitangi park - it will be nice to spend some time outside. This will be the final 'formal' meeting so we're hoping it's a good one. We'll make some plans for next year soon that will hopefully increase membership and our profile.

PS don't forget to check out the Schools Out facebook site. Feel free to post your ideas and questions!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lesbian Drop-In Update from Jo

Lesbian drop-ins are on the first Wednesday of every month. We are celebrating our last Drop-in of the year this week (tomorrow!).

Some of us have been pretty social of late including going to the Dyke Dance at Scotty and Mal's.
We continue to get 2 to 3 new women attend each month and there is always lots ot share.

Although we are a diverse group there are pockets of similar experience ie leaving longterm straight relationships for the greener pastures of the lesbian lifestyle...

We provide support to each other and by listening and sharing our stories. We would like to have a film evening over the holidays and most of us enjoy music so we send out emails for joint ventures and just see who shows up.

For more information you can email me at

I also had an opportunity to chat about sucide and depression with the School's Out Group recently and am availble to do facilitate discussions with these groups from time to time. Thanks for having me along I enjoyed meeting you.

A Big thanks to Leonie and George for cofacilitating The Drop-In.

Happy Solstice and Christmas Greetings to all Queer Beings out there.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Year-end wrap-up from Chris, WGWG's co-chair

The meeting in Sydney with a similar group to ours was reassuring in that they were experiencing many of the same changes in the way that their services were meeting community needs (see the previous blog entry).

I was interested in their role in providing alcohol and drug counselling services that are not exclusively targeted to the queer community.

They work out of a large house in central Newtown funded for a bequest some years ago. Having a base like this makes it easier for them to run this type of counselling service, with enough space for the phone helpline service, drop-in groups, staff office space. They also rent space to a queer youth group called Twenty10.

I think this raises issues we need to consider in our future strategies. The recent AIDS Foundation review identified the lack of mental health support as a major gap.

An observation from my limited experience is that mainstream drug and alcohol help services are not set up to dig past the obvious… so I suspect that the chances of a queer client getting any acknowledgement or help with deep seated problems arising from being queer are low.

What is the future role of our group? The strategy meeting early next year is a good opportunity for us all to debate what we see as important ways we could change. I hope you can all come alone and participate. Chris

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Visit to Sydney's GLBT Helpline

By coincidence Chris and Stu were in Sydney in November so they headed to the inner west suburb of Newtown to visit New South Wales’ gay & lesbian counselling service. Fiona Paskulich was a great host.

Here are some points that stood out:

- They take about 1300-1600 calls a year. About 60% of callers are male, 32% women and 8% Trans.
- Up to 20% of their calls come from rural areas where isolation and loneliness is a big theme.
- They have around 25-30 active counsellors in total (70 actual members).
- They support a men’s and women’s coming out group. The men’s group is changing its approach to re-energise the membership. They are also directly involved with a drug and alcohol recovery programme (not specifically GLBT).
- A separate GLBT youth organisation, Twenty10, is housed in the same building.

Chris and Stu left with the impression that the GLCS of NSW is doing a great job. Surprisingly, they are not too different to us at WGWG and are facing similar issues. It’s quite motivating to know we have sister organisations out there who are so friendly and are willing to share ideas and approaches with us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Schools Out Update

For last Wednesday's schools out in town we had Laressa as a guest speaker to talk about some safe sex and sexual health resources for people starting university.

This week Jo is guest speaker on depression and suicide, and after that Carl will be talking about drugs and alcohol. We also had a discussion of stress not long ago.

All the people at School's Out seem to be making friends with each other, which is great! The Kapiti School's Out group is also doing well, everyone attending is really happy to have a queer support group in the area.

Anyone wanting information about the Kapiti group can contact School's Out on 0277 639 793, or contact Kapiti Youth Support.


Monday, November 1, 2010

New ads on Google & Facebook

On October 15th our promotion team, Promohomos, started a new advertising campaign on Google and Facebook. The below blurb is an example of some of the ad wording you’ll see when you use google search words like ‘gay’ and ‘Wellington’.

Our facebook/google ad budget was $600. We pay when people actually click on the ads, not by how many times they are shown. For Google we pay nearly $2 per click. So if you're a WGWG member make sure you don’t click or we could end up paying 1/3 of our total ad budget just so our members can see our own website :-)

Already our Google ads have been seen over 50,000 times and our Facebook ads have been seen over 270,000 times. This has resulted in a record number of visits to our website – there were 570 in October!

Coming Out? Confused?
We’ve been there. (04) 473 7878
Wellington Gay & Lesbian Helpline

Friday, October 29, 2010

Strategy day in Jan/Feb 2011

We decided to schedule an overnight get together at Strathene (near Otaki) in Jan/Feb 2011 to do some future strategic planning for WGWG and the Gay & Lesbian Helpline. Everyone’s invited. We’ll sort out the exact date soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Helpline and the i-world...

I splashed out and bought an iPhone a couple of weeks ago. The idea of having google available 24/7 was irresistible. So was the idea of having a new toy to play with.

It took me a week to find the gay man’s "must have" iPhone programme. If you haven't heard of Grindr then you are living in the dark ages of cruising. At the touch of a button you can see profiles of gay men close by, some within walking distance. Anywhere. Anytime.

Grindr made me realize how relevant technology is for GLBT. And the Gay & Lesbian Helpline needs to figure out our role in this new i world. What can we offer the person who has the local queer community available at their fingertips?


PS The 16th November training topic just happens to be about online dating...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Discussion about suicide prevention

Our October guest speakers were Jenny Jones and Denise Steers who talked about suicide and mental health. We had a good turn-out with 18 attendees.

At the Gay & Lesbian Helpline we know that we can’t stop suicide. We don’t want callers to suicide, but we’re not going to make judgements against it. We encourage callers to explore other options and we’re here to listen.

We learned from the speakers that there have been just under 50 deaths since January in the Wellington region, with most being 30-55 year-old males. There are a number of NZ prevention initiatives underway, including the John Kirwan depression campaign on .

Jenny and Denise gave us some good tips, including:

- don’t shy away from asking direct questions such as ‘have you thought about killing yourself’. Research has shown that you won’t seed the idea by raising it
- social networking can make people vulnerable so ask if callers have their own site on the web
- find out if the caller has any ‘support people’
- ask what music callers listen to – music does influence people’s moods
- if a caller has been to the doctor because they’re depressed, ask about their prescribed medications – they can make them feel worse in the short term
- it may be useful to reassure the caller that a lot of us have felt like that, but we are still here.

We invited WGWG associates to the October training session. In future we plan to extend invitations to the wider queer community – especially for the more interesting and widely relevant topics.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Money Stuff...

In September we were very grateful to receive $1,000 from the Armstrong & Arthur Charitable Trust for Lesbians. This money orginates from the Lesbian Helpline - when it closed a few years ago it passed its money on to A&A. We will use this to support the monthly Lesbian Drop-In.

The Funding Committee met on the 28th to plan future applications through to March 2011. If anyone has bright ideas about raising funds, let one of us know. We'll report back at the October business meeting. [If you're reading this and you have some spare money waiting to go to a good cause, don't forget that you can donate to us and claim a tax rebate - there's more detail on our homepage!]

Over the last month we provided $250 worth of New World vouchers to the Awhina Centre using the Cuthbert Funds.

At the September business meeting we agreed to provide financial support to Tranzform for the next six months.

Finally a big thanks to James for auditing/reviewing the accounts and sending through the final review report last month.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Outcome of September Intake Day

Our third intake day for the year took place on 18th September. There were 15 people, 8 newbies and a great show of support from current members. Bill did an excellent job as trainer and Ted kept the day well organised and everyone well fed.

The newbies broke the record for the database quiz, generously sponsored by Butlers Chocolates (Jerad & Alexis managed to do it in 5 minutes – driven by the desire to win the chocolate prize no doubt!).

Lesbian Drop-In Update

The Lesbian Drop-in continues to flourish. There will be 3 new attendees next week. George and Jo will hire a shuttle to take a group to the next Women's Dance on Oct 30th at The Pines in Houghton Bay. As it is close to Halloween women can dress-up or wear a mask if they choose.

It’s great to have the Arthur & Armstrong Charitable Trust for Lesbians funding to help support us now. Spread the word if you know women who may want to attend the Drop-in.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schools Out Update

We’ve been going well in September with new faces turning up most weeks. The group at Kapiti Youth Support is off to a great start with a strong turn out, nice facilities and very supportive and friendly staff.

We had people from the police come in and have a chat about DLO's (Diversity Liaison Officers) and joining the force. That got our attention - particularly for those of us who had been at the police college the previous day to help with training.

Now we are in the middle of the school holidays with fun events planned such as a bake-off and a sleepover with DVD's and board games. I have my learners drivers licence test coming up so am also busy studying. Brendan

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The September guest speaker was Louse from Tranzform Wellington, a support group for young transgender people. They meet on the second Tuesday of the month and can be contacted via their website.

Louse explained that the group has about 20 members. About three quarters are girls and a quarter are guys. At present the members’ ages range from 14 to 28.

Louse shared a lot of information about the challenges facing transgender youth. One of the main obstacles to overcome is a feeling of isolation. It's really important to know that if you are transgender you are not alone. Having a supportive GP makes a big difference. Some of the assumptions people make - such as 'it is just a phase' and 'it's a choice you make' - are similar to what we often face when coming out.

Louse's advice was that if a transgender youth calls Helpline, don't judge or make assumptions. Let them know it's ok, there are many other transgenders out there. Putting transgender youth in contact with someone who has been through the process is really valuable so we're lucky to have Tranzform as a local group to refer callers to.

Louse coped outstandingly with lots of questions. It was a great session.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Check out the below site for some pretty amazing Wellington and NZ audio interviews and stories from the queer community. Our very own (ex) Schools Out co-ordinator & community development worker hanna Ho is doing a great job putting them together!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Common topics raised by Helpline callers

Have you ever wondered why people phone the Wellington Gay & Lesbian Helpline? Here are some of the common topics raised by callers from January to August this year:

- relationship issues
- confusion with sexuality
- people looking for same sex relationships
- coming out (ranging from teenagers to middle-aged callers)
- callers who have recently had their first same sex experience
- general chats
- married men who think they might be gay.

Every caller is different! If you or someone you know wants to chat anonymously to someone from the gay and lesbian community, that's what we're here for. And don't hesitate to call more than once - our volunteers all have different experiencs to share. Phone 04 473 7878 Sunday-Wednesday from 7.30pm-9.30pm.

Friday, September 3, 2010

August AGM

There were 18 of us at the AGM on 17 August. George replaced Jo as a co-chair (joining Chris) and Greg and Stu remained as secretary and treasurer respectively.

Unlike previous years we also appointed a couple of assistants. Jason put his name forward to be assistant secretary, and Liz put her name forward as assistant treasurer. Jason also joined Ted as a trainee co-ordinator, Alexis offered to help out with the newsletter, and Jerad put his hand up to join the funding committee. That is awsome guys!

A full list of position holders will be published in the August AGM minutes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back in 1979...

Kura and I were browsing through papers in the Helpline room a week ago and came across WGWG’s 25th birthday folder. Did you know that although we were formally established as an incorporated society in 1981, 1979 was our official start date? Incredibly that was less than one year after openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk was shot and killed in San Francisco.

At the age of 31 we’re doing pretty well for a volunteer organisation. Congratulations to all the people who took on roles at the August AGM. Make sure you bring energy and put new ideas forward to help keep WGWG alive for many years to come. Stu

September update from Schools Out

This month in School's Out we have been looking into how to get in touch with ourselves and others with discussions around masturbation and flirting. We have looked at family and issues within the family and how to work through those issues. Promotion has also been a focus for us and looking at ways to promote the group and what appeals to the youth with wristbands and t-shirts being a popular idea. The attendance of youth has been fairly steady with an average of about 12-20 people attending on a weekly basis. We are also in the process of looking at starting a group in Kapiti at Kapiti Youth Support which we hope will help us to link-up with youth up the coast.

Greetings from WGWG's New Co-Chair

I am George, your recently elected co-chair. I’m 26, and I’ve been living in Wellington for the last 8 years. Before that I was at high school on the Kapiti coast, so Wellington’s always featured in my life as the nearest big city. My personal interests are gender and sexuality, oral history, and youth development. Also I am very good looking. I have been involved with WGWG for just over a year and have gained a lot from my experience in volunteering for Gay Helpline, attending the Lesbian Drop-in group, and in helping facilitate School’s Out.

We are facing complex challenges in our organisation. These include the impact of the recession on our funding base, and the trend towards a declining number of calls to the Helpline. This may mean we need to raise the profile of WGWG, and think about new ways that people may seek help from us.

Youth programmes such as School’s Out, GBLT Sandwich and Tranzform continue to be a crucial point of contact to queer youth in Wellington. Our website is currently being tweaked to offer more to clients, such as information about sexuality and connection to our services. Use of technology also helps our members provide a better service, for instance through the ability to take calls at home and the searchable Redbook.

Strengthening the profile of the group is crucial to the sustainability of the services we provide. As a WGWG member, you have committed your time and energy to your community through being a support and guide to people questioning their sexuality. We have an opportunity to enlighten the public and our membership on the contributions that WGWG makes in the community.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trainee Intake Day: 18th September 2010

Want to use your own life experience to help other gays and lesbians who are at times struggling with sexuality related issues? Wellington Gay Welfare Group, managing the Gay & Lesbian Wellington Helpline, will have all-day induction training on Saturday, 18th September, 2010. You will learn to be an empathetic support able to make a difference in someone else's life, be they friend, family or stranger. Practice helping via confidential, telephone, one-on-one chats or get involved in a number of other ways.

Interested? Then by 15th September, ring Helpline, 473-7878, at anytime, leaving your contact details or email them to We will then arrange a pre-training day chat over tea, coffee, hot chocolate (or wine?). Looking forward to having you and your experience join us!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Cuthbert Funds

WGWG has approximately $120,000 remaining from the Peter Cuthbert bequest. This fund has been critical to help us employ Brendan (and Hanna) to run Schools Out. It has also provided a lot of assistance to help men with HIV. This month we granted $800 to help a Wellingtonian with HIV pay bills and keep his business on track.

Peter Cuthbert passed away in 1988. He was one of the very first New Zealanders to contract HIV back in 1984. Bill spoke at Peter’s funeral. Here’s an extract from Bill’s speech:

"This was a man who was a supporter, a proper up of people, and a man who served his community. He was a man who gave a great deal. We have lost someone very special."

It’s a credit to Peter’s generosity that he is still supporting the gay and lesbian community today, over 20 years later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July Training - DLOs from the NZ Police

Our July training guests were Karen and Kirsten, two of Wellington’s Diversity Liaison Officers (DLOs) in the Police.

The DLO is a part-time role which began back in 2004. Today there are 70 DLOs around the country. We have three locals - in Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt. DLOs have experience to support people under stress from society. They are particularly good at dealing with bullying and homophobia.

Their advice was to go to a DLO if you’re part of the queer community and you’re not getting good police satisfaction. Just phone the communications centre and ask for a DLO.

You’ll see the DLOs around the capital – they even came along to Out in the Square. Check out more information about them on the Police website.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking back to 2000

Ten years ago Ross and I were Helpline Newbies. I don’t remember too much from the intake day, but I know I was nervous about taking calls. Back in 2000 we had between 70 and 130 calls a month. Derek Cattley was the Chair, and Chris, Bill and Rod were as committed members then as they are now. The hot topic of the day was the same-sex relationship bill.

In 2010 WGWG is a lot different and so is the way we live our lives. But the energy in WGWG is stronger than ever. There were over 17 people at our June meeting and we’ve got 10 new male and female volunteers. I’m looking forward to the August AGM to celebrate our success. If you have memories to share for the next newsletter, let me know!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June reflections from our male co-chair

Hi there – I really enjoyed being part of the recent training day. We have always attracted good people for training days but this time it really helped that there was a much bigger and diverse group. There were also more WGWG members there to assist Bill and his team make the day the success I think it was.

Now we have a large new intake, it’s up to all of us to be there to do duties with trainees. We used to have a system of assigning new trainees to at least one Helpliner who would keep in touch with them and help in the process of becoming part of the WGWG group – I think this may be a good time to get this reinstated. Think about it for the next meeting.

We are also looking at the best way to introduce some additional training after trainees have had some experience doing shared duties – and include in this process people who are full members of the WGWG. We have money to advertise particularly our youth groups, and we are currently looking at re-vamping our brochures, business cards, posters and website. If you want to help with designing stuff contact Ted or George.

Next meeting we are discussing the update to the WGWG Rules, and want to hear your views on whether the re-drafted rules properly reflect how we all want to see the group operate. Chris

Monday, June 28, 2010

Newcomers goes into hibernation

This month we sent Newcomers into hibernation for the winter…

Newcomers is a support group for men of 18 years and older who are gay or think they might be. It usually meets fortnightly. There is more about the group on the Newcomers icon on the left of our homepage.

Just because it's in hibernation doesn't me we can't start it up again if there is a demand. But if we don't have any requests, it will resume sometime in spring.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice, from our co-chair

Happy Belated Winter Solstice! - from Jo, one of the WGWG co-chairs.

We had a great June training session with our new trainees. We are happy about the growing numbers of women helpliners. A group of us plan to meet in August to talk about the different experiences we bring to the organisation and how we are assimilating what we are learning about the experience of Gay men.

I am off for a much needed holiday shortly… See you when I return. Be Safe


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cuthert Assistance in June

In June WGWG used the Cuthbert Funds to help people pay for travel costs when they come from outside Wellington to receive counseling from the AIDS Foundation.

The Peter Cuthbert Trust remains available to respond to the welfare needs of people with HIV /AIDs when other agencies do not.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wellington Sexual Abuse Network

Our June training guests were Julieanne and Mel from the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network.

Their network provides people of all genders with support, advocacy and a drop-in centre. They help deal with Police and they will support people if they don’t want to involve Police. They operate a Crisis and Support Helpline (499-7532) based in the Old James Smith’s building Offices.

Their technique on the phone is to validate callers’ concerns, be reassuring and to let callers know that they will not be bull-dozed into doing something they don’t want to do. They have choices. They don’t use the word “counselling” because they believe that sends the message there is something wrong with the person who contacts them.

Julieanne and Mel’s information was interesting and well received. Julieanne invited WGWG members to visit their office and support space. She is available to answer any questions or give advice on specific situations.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

School's Out & G.B.L.T. Sandwich Update

Brendan reports that in May School's Out focused on sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, break-ups and the ethics around these issues. Our numbers are steady and new contacts being made regularly. We plan to attend some Out Takes Festival films in June.

G.B.L.T. Sandwich has been going well with some good numbers to start with and hopes of bigger numbers as we go forward. In time I'm sure this group could work on its own with leadership from within the group. Brendan

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Membership criteria changes

WGWG's constitution states that membership of the Group shall be open to those who:
- Are self-accepting queers
- Accept the constitution and rules of the Group
- Agree to be available to make a substantial contribution to the Group's work through one or more of its projects
- Are accepted by the Group on a consensus basis.

In May we agreed to amend our guidelines for accepting new members. You will now need to complete all initial training and:
- Do 8 duties with trained helpliners or
- successfully take at least 5 solo counselling calls whilst on duty with trained helpliners or
- be active with the Group for at least 6 months or
- be accepted for another reason as agreed by the members.

We will formally change the Helpline Rules shortly.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lesbian goings-on

An update for the Ladies! Here are a couple of goings-on in the lesbian community courtesy of Jo, our co-chair.

One of our group members - Lillian - is working on a short documentary that focuses on lesbian stereotypes for a school project. George, Krystle and Jo participated in the project sharing some of what they have experienced, mostly with humour.

The next Pines Dance for lesbians is coming up on June 19th - $12 for low wage and $15 for everyone else. Hope to see you there.

Stay warm as we head for the Winter Solstice. Jo

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helene talks about the Cuthbert Funds

This month Helene Garland, a Social Worker at the Wellington Hospital, gave a presentation to WGWG regarding the value of Peter Cuthbert Trust gifts that have been granted to the clients she works with. Helene works with clients with HIV/AIDS and reported that she works with approximately 45 clients even though her hours in this role are limited to 10 hours a week. Helene spoke of the multitude of issues that can occur following a diagnosis of HIV / AIDS including disruptions in work and family relationships. She also reported that at times her clients are also coping with other health issues such as hepatitis or cardio-vascular disease.

Helene spoke of the isolation, poor housing and financial issues that some of her clients experience, as well as the physical issues such as fatigue, depression and opportunistic infections. She also talked of the limited assistance that is available through agencies such as WINZ. She sometimes attends WINZ visits and noted that often when grants are made for urgent assistance, these are made recoverable which means that deductions are made from their benefits until the grant is repaid. This is often unaffordable for people on benefits to repay. Helene also talked about confidentiality issues her clients face as some do not feel able to approach agencies.

Helene detailed all the contributions her clients had received from the Trust and how these gifts had helped with essential items such as transport, housing, furniture, childcare or healthcare when non-residents. She spoke of the value of the trust and the delight her clients experienced when their applications were approved.

We thank Helene for her presentation and for her work with her clients and we greatly appreciate the relationship she has built with us for the welfare of people with HIV/AIDs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Memorium

It was sad to hear that Kyle McIntosh passed away on 30 April.

Kyle joined Helpline as a trainee in June 2004 and became a member five months later. We have Kyle to thank for our website design and the Gay Wellington logo you can see on this blog page.

Kyle was an active helpliner as recently as April 2009 and he later became an Associate. A really lovely guy. We will miss you, Kyle.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Schools Out April Update

Here's Brendan's Schools Out update for April:

The first 2 weeks of the month were school holidays so we had 2 events, a queer DVD day and an art day at the 'Under the Rainbow' exhibition. We also had a great discussion on bullying leading up to 'Pink Shirt Day' and we had Carl Greenwood in for a chat about safe sex, HIV and AIDS. The numbers are sitting steady with around 16-20 youth turning up on a weekly basis, it can get quite cozy round the meeting room table at the Awhina Centre.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Youth Group - "G.B.L.T. Sandwich"

A new group for 18-25yr old queer youth has been launched in Wellington. Here's an update from Brendan about "G.B.L.T. Sandwich":

The new group for 18-25yr old queer youth has finally been started. We had our first meeting on the 23rd of April with a small but good turnout. We came up with a whole list of name suggestions with 'G.B.L.T. Sandwich' thankfully winning the majority vote as some of the others were highly ridiculous and inappropriate. We also decided on a few other things such as time, day, frequency and what we were about.

The first official meeting of 'G.B.L.T. Sandwich' will be on May 7th from 6:45pm and starting at 7pm at Anvil House. The meetings will be fortnightly with some focus for the first part of the meeting and then social time after. For more info contact Brendan 0277639793 or find the group on Facebook.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Lesbian Drop-In

Here's Nic and Jo's April update from the Lesbian Drop-In:

There were about eight attendees at the April Lesbian Drop-In. Later in April we went to a dance together as a group. For some this was their first lesbian outing.

Each attendee has their own story. There is no pressure to share but as it is a safe and supportive environment the courage shown encourages everyone to contribute.

At the Drop-In we hear updates and happy news of personal triumphs such as telling family/friends, meeting someone, and finding other gay networks through work/social events. We also speak of how we dealt with an issue someone else might be tackling.

The two co-facilitators are well-skilled at guiding such groups. Their dedication to easing the way for ‘new’ lesbians is warmly obvious. They raise topics for discussion, help expand conversations and generously share their own experiences. There is some real joy and humour expressed.

The Drop-In meets on the first Wednesday of the month. The contact is Jo (email or phone Jo on 021 2480954).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Next Intake Day - 12 June

The following note was prepared by Chris, one of WGWG's co-chairs, for our May newsletter:

The WGWG membership statistics show even just on an administrative level how diverse we are as a group - reflecting different interests and ability to commit time. For example - assisting with Schools Out instead of being on the end of the phone helpline; having ‘associates’ who are former members still wanting contact but who can’t at present commit time.

We are always looking for new trainees for the helpline service and to help Brendan, Jo and Bill with Schools Out, Lesbian Drop-in, and Newcomers. We also have a need for people to help with fund raising (preparing applications to charities/ trusts), publicity (advertising our groups), administration, writers for this newsletter, and people to keep our internet presence lively and current (we have a Schools Out and WGWG blog, and Facebook profile).

Tell your friends about us and encourage them to get involved… The next intake day is on Saturday 12 June but we will take new folk on board as soon as they express an interest.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WGWG's Supervisor, Jane Henson

Our April training session was taken by WGWG’s supervisor, Jane Henson. Jane was introduced by Bill Logan. He said that she is who we turn to if we have “a problem” to get advice. She carries the title of Supervisor in the role of Supervising Counsellor for the WGWG Helpline. We are all able to contact her for advice if we need it – especially to get help with a caller.

Jane is a professional Counsellor, living and working in her private practice in Pukerua Bay.

Her credentials include being a Life Member of the Counsellor’s Association of New Zealand. She was Deputy Chair of the World Counsellors Association. Her career as a Counsellor began in 1978 when she was appointed to pilot a new role in New Zealand of Guidance Teacher – half teacher and half Guidance Counsellor at Wellington High School. She already loved teaching and found it was her calling to counsel as well.

Jane is the mother of three adults and recently became grandmother of her 5th grandchild after initially “not believing in grandchildren”. Her eldest gay son in the UK is father of two little girls, daughters of two lesbian couples.

From the very beginning of her counseling work at Wellington High School, where there were a large percentage of adult students, Jane has been counseling gay men. In 1984, she joined the AIDS Support Network describing the time as “hard and heartbreaking”. She remained helping with the Network until the Awhina Centre was set up. Jane also worked as head of Counselling at Wellington Polytech (Massey Wellington) and then 3 years counselling at the Medical School.

In the mid 1990’s, she and her partner Martyn went to work for VSA in Tanzania in the middle of Africa, far away from her beloved sea. Martyn came down with malaria while there and the locals kept asking “is he dead yet?” There, Jane experienced a very different Swahili-speaking culture, well outside her comfort zone. But being the odd ones out and not belonging was a great learning experience.

Jane does not set any expectations for Helpliners. She is there to help “behind the scenes” and has confidence in our being able to work through things with our callers. She still admires what WGWG does in the community. Advice? “People share themselves with you – hold their confidentiality and trust carefully. Be non-judgmental and helpful. Deal with who it is that you are talking to at the time, not who they might be affecting.”

After being thanked by Ross on behalf of WGWG, Jane’s final words were “Keep on keeping on”.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Membership

When we kicked-off the monthly newsletter in January no one anticipated the amount of work required to tidy up our membership distribution lists. However we think we’ve got it sorted now! If you’re reading this and are directly involved with WGWG you probably fall into one of these 6 categories:

Members - Helpliners 13
Members – Non Helpliners 3
Associate Members 24
Trainees 6
Associate (inactive) Trainees 4
Prospective Trainees 1
Total 51

It’s great having such a large number of people directly involved with WGWG. If you're thinking about joining us, send an email through to

Donations to WGWG qualify for a tax rebate

WGWG is a registered charity. This means information about us is publicly available on the Charities Commission website (click here for the link). Any donations you make to WGWG qualify for a tax rebate, so you can claim 33% back from IRD. If your employer agrees, you can even donate as part of your salary deductions every payday. Our bank account details are available from our web page at Our Charitable Status Registration Number is CC29680.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lesbian Drop-In

WGWG sponsors a Lesbian Drop-In, which holds meetings from 6.00pm-7.30pm on the 1st Wednesday of the month. The contact is Jo (email or phone Jo on 021 2480954).

For our April WGWG Newsletter we asked one of the current Drop-In members to write a blurb about her experience. Here is what she wrote:

“I always thought I was alone in this fight. I am aware that there are also other gays and lesbians but I thought we fought our own fights. Joining the drop-in was one of the bravest and wisest things I have done, not only were my eyes opened to the reality that I was not alone, but I also found myself at the start of something new. We may be in different stages of our journey, but the journey is the same; to find ourselves and be happy living who we are. It takes great courage to start and go thru this journey and I am happy that I found this group. I wish the same for the other struggling gays and lesbians to be able to realise that they are not alone.”

Schools Out update for March

School's Out has been going really well with steady numbers in Wgtn and growing numbers in the Hutt. We had a great and wild time with a 'Mad Hatter Tea Party' and went to see 'Alice in Wonderland' on the 20th. This month starts off with Easter Weekend which then leads into the school holidays with some exciting events planned. Brendan

March 2010 Training Day Update

We recently held another Training Day for new help-line volunteers. Ted provided his delicious homemade soup as usual which energized our spirits throughout the process - thank you. Four keen newbies showed up, took the plunge and got to know some of the members of Queer Support Wellington. We shared some skills, introduced some role-plays, told some 'coming-out' stories to each other, had Carl talk about Safer Sex and made sure we had some laughs. I would have to say the quality of this new group of trainees is of high standard. Thank you to all our members who showed up, helped out and welcomed our new trainees. We have a few more on the waitlist, so Bill and I will let you know when the next training is scheduled.

Helpline hours reduce from 1 April 2010

The big news at WGWG is the decision at the March business meeting to reduce Helpline coverage from 7 nights a week to 4 nights a week. Starting from 1 April we'll be available Sunday through to Wednesday, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. This will be for a 3-month trial period and then we'll make a decision whether to continu...e or revert back to 7 nights a week. It’s a positive step that addresses the problem of us not having enough volunteers to be on the phones 7 days a week, 365 days a year at present. It also gives both our callers and trainees more certainty about when we’ll be available.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trainee Intake Day: March 2010

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Helpline volunteer, we have a training day planned on Sunday 21 March. Applications from all members of the queer community are welcome. Email us at or phone Helpline on 473-7878. We'll meet you for an informal discussion before the training. Volunteers are asked to work at least one 2-hour shift a month, from 7.30pm - 9.30pm.