Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Big Thanks to Mr Gay World!

This weekend Andreas Derleth - Mr Gay NZ and Mr Gay World - hosted an Oktoberfest party in Auckland. He turned it into a fundraising event and split up the proceeds in four equal parts amongst Rainbow Youth, Gay Wellington, OutlineNZ and Nikosi's Haven. Andreas just let me know that they raised $1335.80, so Gay Wellington's share is $333.95. Isn't that great!!! Thanks Andy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The year in review - School's Out (Annual Report - Part 5)

We estimate that there have been approximately 160 individual participants in our School’s Out Programme in 2011/2012. However this does not include class visits or assembly talks which could exceed 500.

In addition to the two part-time paid staff (working 15 hours a week each) there are nine facilitator volunteers who help manager School’s Out.

The employment of two part time staff has improved the consistency and responsiveness of the program, while keeping the positive elements of the team decision-making structure of volunteers. We have been able to do a lot more to promote, expand and improve the service thanks to the employment of Kassie and George.

We’ve had regular meetings during school terms in Wellington Central and Kapiti for the entire year, and weekly meetings in the Hutt Valley since April 2012. We have seen groups at central meetings of between 7 and 20 young people. In addition, we’ve seen a regular meeting of 8-12 people at the Hutt meetings, and a smaller group every week in Kapiti of between 3 and 7 people.

A lot of the achievements we’ve made aren’t about numbers though, they’re about making a noticeable difference to people’s lives. We’ve supported many young people on an individual level, whether through providing them with advice or someone to talk to, creating forums for discussion for queer and trans issues in their lives, and advocating for them where appropriate.

Regular discussions on topics reflect the diversity and positivity of the group. They include coming out, family, safe sex, drugs and alcohol, drag workshop, depression, self harm and suicude, gender identity, sexuality spectrum, consent and boundaries, religion, relationships.

School’s Out did a lot to promote the group including a mail out to school principals and counsellors in April and printing posters to distribute in schools.

We networked with other queer youth services across the country to share issues and give feedback and work together on common tasks and issues. In particular we were involved in the Cross Country videolink conversations that were held nationally, and participated in discussions about QSA Network Aotearoa, and we are working with Rainbow Youth to further the education programme.

In October 2011 School’s Out started an 18-25yo social group going which met fortnightly and held events in the school holidays such as a Central Park picnic and DVD days, games days, and in the Christmas/New Year period School’s Out took 16 people to Vinegar Hill to camp in the Manawatu.

Here is some direct feedback from the youth:
“Thanks for camp! It was great fun (even with the rain)”;
“It was just awesome to hangout and bond with everyone from School’s Out- I feel like we are a family now.”

We had a presence at Out in the Square early in 2012 with youth putting out flyers. Some of our youth got interviewed by One News and appeared on a segment of the news about Out in the Square.

School’s Out was invited by the Governor General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae, to a Waitangi Day reception at Government house.

In summary, WGWG fulfilled its intention to employ staff to take on leadership roles for School’s Out and this has greatly increased the consistency and furtherance of the program.

We have increased the quality of our training for community and school leaders and staff support as well as continuing to offer education programmes for students.

We have clearer strategies to counter homophobic bullying in the region and how to best work with schools to further this goal.

We continue to value and engage with our volunteers, managing their involvement, and staff have worked with volunteers to offer training and support that has increased the quality of the groups and the investment from individuals.

We have networked not only with queer youth organisations but have developed strong working partnerships with youth health services in the Wellington region and are engaging a wide sector of the community services network in the region.

We are particularly grateful to our financial sponsors who have made employment of our staff possible – especially the Winton & Margaret Bear Charitable Trust, the Wellington City Council, Gayline Wellington Trust, and the Lotteries Commission.

In the coming year we plan to introduce more education programs in schools, continue to build our youth groups, strengthen our presence in the regions, get more facilitators involved, re-launch our Kapiti group, link into national campaigns such as Pink Shirt Day, maintain links to youth agencies and queer networks regionally and nationally, plan a regional hui for queer youth, and generally have a lot of fun.

The year in review - Coming-Out Groups (Annual Report, Part 4)


Newcomers, the coming-out group for men aged 18 and up, had been in ‘hibernation’ since June 2010. We restarted the group again in October 2011 and have been meeting fortnightly ever since (on every second Tuesday from 6pm to 7.30pm).

Unlike previous occasions, the meetings have been held in the CBD rather than in someone’s home. However the format – where one person tells their life and coming-out story, and then the group asks questions and identifies parts of the story that they can relate to – is similar to the approach we have taken in the past.

A total of 15 men have contacted Newcomers between October 2011 and June 2012. Ages range from 18 through to 60s, with the most common being guys in their 20s and 40s.

The fortnightly meetings tend to average between 6-10 attendees. This year we also invited Newcomers to the WGWG monthly guest speaker sessions, as well as some of the WGWG social events (such as condom-packing at the Awhina Centre, as shown in this photo).

Testimonials are a good way of demonstrating how much of an impact this type of support group can have on people’s lives. Here is an example, which was published on our website in May 2012:

“Being a gay man thinking of coming out, I joined Newcomers hoping to hear about the stories of others and how they found the whole coming out process. I have always been able to relate, in some way, to the stories shared by other members of the group and have been amazed by how much some members have gone through – it really puts my own reservations about coming out into perspective. I also like the informal and ‘no drama’ nature of the meetings as well as the support and honest advice the group provides. I have been going to Newcomers for about three months now and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to give it a go.”

Lesbian Drop-In

The Lesbian Drop-In continued to meet monthly during 2011/2012 and was very well attended. Throughout the year we have had guests such as Chris from LILAC come along and inform us about the library and resources available to lesbians. Visitors from as far away as France, Canada and Mexico shared their experiences of arriving in Wellington and their settling process. We have also arranged social events such as booking in to see the Italian movie Sea Purple and having drinks afterwards. The Drop-In is a friendly, inclusive and welcoming bunch of women and we are very grateful to the funders of our group.

The year in review - Helpline (Annual Report - Part 3)

For the 12-months ending 30 June 2012 we received 146 calls and 61 callers (42%) were women. This compares to 129 calls and 40% women callers for the previous year.  We have been available for 172 days out of a possible 203 (85%). We have talked for about 37 hours, which averages to over 3 hours a month. The number of WGWG volunteers who assist with helpline are 16 members and 11 trainees (which is about 60% of total WGWG members/trainees).

Overall there has been a 13% increase in the volume of calls this year.  The proportion of women callers has grown slightly and the number of days we have been available has decreased slightly.

Most calls were 'counselling' calls or general chats. A small number of callers asked about venues or referrals to different GLBTI groups. Here are the most common types of discussion topics over the 12 months:

1. Coming out (the most common reason for calling)
2. Straight men with a same sex attraction
3. Bi-curious callers
4. Relationships / relationship break-ups / abusive partners
5. Straight parents/relatives asking for resources for family members
6. Loneliness
7. Information about the local community
8. Transgender issues
9. Immigration issues
10. Referrals to groups such as Homophones, School’s Out and Newcomers
11. Questions about HIV and oral sex
12. Straight men who had a friend come out to them.


The year in review - Co-Chair Report (Annual Report - Part 2)

We are proud to present the 2011/2012 annual report for WGWG.

This has been a year of growth for the group. Our membership has almost doubled in the last 12 months, beginning with 25 members and new volunteers, and ending with 48. We re-launched the men’s coming-out group Newcomers which has been popular with over 15 newcomers attending. School’s Out has significantly widened its reach across the Wellington region and we have taken on board new activities such as finding accommodation for homeless GLBTI youth. Services provided by Helpline increased by 13%, the Lesbian Drop-In has remained steady and only the HIV (Cuthbert) grant funding work has reduced due to a smaller number of funding requests.

Looking forward to 2012/2013, there are several changes on the horizon:

• We are considering further expansion of the School’s Out programme with an increased focus on education in schools.
• OutlineNZ has proposed that WGWG volunteers take their 0800 national calls for two nights per week from early 2013. If this occurs the local Wellington helpline is likely to close and all Wellingtonians will be encouraged to call the national 0800 number.
• We may undertake a community survey to help determine our future five-year direction as a group.
• As discussed at our strategic planning days in 2011, changes to our management structure may bring improvements to the way WGWG operates.
• We could build on the number of media statements we made this year and increase our own promotion and community interaction.

The remainder of this section of the co-chair report acknowledges our administrative progress in 2011/2012. The subsequent sections summarise the impact that WGWG initiatives have had on the GLBTI community in the Wellington region.

Volunteers join for many different reasons and ‘giving back to the community’ is often one of them. It is great to have such a wide range of experience within WGWG and much credit goes to Bill and Ted for giving their time to the initial meetings and the intake training days. Many thanks to everyone else who has made the new recruits feel welcome.

Social Activities
In recent years we’ve been more flexible than in the past and encouraged volunteers to help in areas they feel most suited to, rather than just through the helpline. This has proved to be a successful approach. We’ve also increased our social activities which include both members and people who are attending the ‘coming out’ groups. Marc and Jo have assisted with these – a visit to the Emperor’s Bathhouse, group attendance for “That’s So Gay” at Bats and a condom-packing event at the Awhina Centre. Bill and Chris have generously offered their homes for the summer BBQs.

Paid Employees
In October 2011 we formally appointed Kassie and George to the part-time paid positions of School’s Out Facilitation Co-ordinator and School’s Out Program Leader respectively. This is the first time we’ve employed two people. It has proved to be a huge success for School’s Out, as outlined in the below report. Carl’s work as their weekly supervisor with Stu has been superb and highly valued. The work Ted and Chris have done behind the scenes to organise the salaries and the tax payments is also very much appreciated.

Speaker Sessions
During 2012, members and new trainees have attended a range of monthly speaker sessions organised by Carl and Suze. Speakers have been from the transgender group Agenda, the PSA union, religious group Galaxies and the NZ Prostitutes Collective. These sessions ensure our members are aware of issues affecting the community. They are also open to the coming-out group members to help them through the coming out process.

Internet and Promohomos
Awareness of WGWG and our internet presence has also grown throughout the year thanks to a $2,000 grant from the TG McCarthy Trust which went towards our website upgrade, and a lot of effort by Alexis, Phil, Ian, Ted and the promohomos team. We started the year with 187 facebook friends and ended with 254. By June 2012 we were also receiving 660 monthly visits to our website and 571 monthly visits to our blog.

Treasurer and Funding Committee
Funding came in steadily throughout the year which has meant our planned spending and income was on track, as shown in the financial accounts. Thanks goes to Kura and the members of the funding committee, as well as to Chris for his work in the treasurer’s role and for implementing a number of improvements including a change to electronic banking.

The executive team this year has been Chris as Treasurer, Sara as Secretary and three co-chairs - Stu, Kura through to May 2012 and Dominique from June through to August 2012. Our successes have been largely due to the members who have taken on both formal and informal leadership roles in WGWG. That includes Alexis leading the website review, Kura taking a leadership role with the funding committee, Bill taking responsibility for our induction days, Ross being our liaison with social workers for the Cuthbert funds, George, Kassie and the School’s Out facilitators for being so pro-active, Conner for being our link to Tranzform, Sara, Jason, Bill and Chris for your time and effort with homeless youth, Jo for leading the Lesbian Drop-In and Bill and Greg for your key roles with Newcomers. To you and everyone else who led the way, many thanks.

Stu Donaldson and Dominique De Witt Co-Chairs, Wellington Gay Welfare Group Incorporated 21 August 2012

The year in review - Our Organisation (Annual Report, part 1)

Our Organisation
The Wellington Gay Welfare Group Inc (WGWG) is an incorporated society. We were founded in 1979 and became a registered charity in 2008.

Our Mission
WGWG’s mission is to promote the welfare of all those in the Wellington region who identify with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities.

Our Objectives
Our objectives are:
• To provide support for members of the Wellington region GLBTI communities.
• To increase the self-esteem of members of the Wellington region GLBTI communities.
• To present a positive model of GLBTI life and image of GLBTI sexuality.
• To foster an increased awareness of GLBTI issues by:
- Providing information to members of the GLBTI community about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual or intersex.
- Providing information to the GLBTI community about coming out and family and personal relationships.
- Providing information about the GLBTI community to other organisations and groups in the community.
- Promoting, encouraging and supporting other amenities, facilities, groups and organisations for GLBTI people.
- Fostering awareness of HIV/AIDs, including the encouragement of safer-sex practices.

Our Activities
In 2011/2012 we furthered our objectives by providing five main services:
• The Wellington Gay & Lesbian Helpline.
• School’s Out, the queer support group for teens based in Wellington, Kapiti and The Hutt.
• Coming-out groups for both men (Newcomers) and women (the Lesbian Drop-In).
• Financial support for local gay men with HIV/AIDS.
• Assistance with Tranzform, the group for trans youth, their friends and supporters.

Our People
As at 30 June 2012 WGWG had two part-time employees and 48 volunteers. The volunteers were either members of WGWG (27) or were training to be members (21). WGWG also has 28 associates – previous members who still wish to be associated with the group. WGWG has an Outside Supervisor who is available for consultation on professional counselling and ethical issues and who assists with resolving disputes and disciplinary matters.