A bespoke timeline for Switchboard LGBT+ helpline
We designed a bespoke timeline for Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline.
On 24th March 2020, something unprecedented happened for Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline…they took their first ever remote call from outside their HQ office in London.
The Covid-19 pandemic had forced many organisations to switch to remote working, almost overnight. And Switchboard’s team of Listening Volunteers had no option but to follow suit. Volunteers now had to take calls remotely, instead of in the phone room at Switchboard’s London HQ.
Since its inception, Switchboard’s team of volunteers has taken over 4 million calls. They provide a safe, confidential listening service for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond via telephone, IM and email.
“Switchboard volunteers are our lifeblood – both on the phone and behind the scenes. They are our greatest asset.”
Switchboard is an LGBT+ helpline open to people of all ages. Their Listening Volunteers talk to people from all across the UK who wish to discuss issues including sexuality, gender identity, mental and sexual health, isolation and more.
Whether this is a personal challenge, or one facing a friend, family member or child, it’s a confidential, non-directive service – their volunteers don’t tell people what to do and they don’t judge.
What happens in the call room…
Jamie Richardson, development lead at Switchboard explains, “We have very strict policies around confidentiality for all our calls.
In other words, what happens in the phone room, stays in the phone room.
It’s a space for our Listening Volunteers to share knowledge and support one another – we all appreciate the sense of community in our phone room.”
Throughout the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the phone room remained closed for the health and safety of volunteers. But Switchboard continued providing its secure LGBT+ helpline remotely.
While the confidentiality aspect of the listening service was maintained remotely, volunteers said that they missed the sense of community in the phone room, and couldn’t wait to get back.
“We had received loads of feedback from people about how much Switchboard had helped them in their time of need.
Our Listening Volunteers had found it really tough working remotely through Covid and were really excited to get back to the phone room.
So we started thinking about what we could do with all this great feedback, and how we could give something back to our amazing volunteers when they returned to HQ.”
– Stephanie Fuller, General Manager
Bespoke Wall Art
The Switchboard team did an online search for inspiration about how to refresh their spaces and stumbled upon Promote Your School. Although Promote Your School specialises in education, they work across other industries too.
Jamie arranged a consultation with Lisa Savage, Director at Promote Your School. During this session, they discussed their ethos, goals and ideas. Switchboard were impressed with Lisa’s experience, values and approach – and the feeling was mutual.
Lisa shares her perspective,“As Jamie chatted about all this great feedback and imagery they had, I shared some examples of Wall Art projects we’d completed for other clients, for inspiration.
Switchboard has such a rich history – they’ve achieved so much and helped many people, for almost half a century. They are often contacted by schools and educational groups to run sessions about their services and the LGBTQ+ community, so we appreciate their work in education.
We were keen to help them enhance their offices, motivate volunteers and celebrate their rich history. Timelines are our most heavily requested type of Wall Art project, and are perfect for showcasing the evolution of events, so we suggested creating a visual timeline to travel up the length of their stairwell.”
A bespoke timeline
Promote Your School designed the timeline to traverse the stairwell, bringing life to dull white walls and a rather drab set of stairs.
Switchboard LGBT+ helpline is one of the UK’s longest running, volunteer led charities serving the LGBTQ+ communities. The milestones of the LGBTQ+ communities can be traced in the calls taken at Switchboard.
The timeline demonstrates some of these moments such as;
- 1974; first day of operation, received 45 calls
- 1982; took their millionth call
- 1984; installed their 5th phone line in response to the upsurge of calls due to the HIV crisis
- 1988; supported those impacted by Section 28 – a new series of laws prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities
- 1999; volunteers rushed to staff the phone lines to support those impacted by the Admiral Duncan Nail Bombing
A little something extra
When Promote Your School’s Director, Lisa Savage, met with Switchboard, she was blown away by the incredible work they do. From the volunteers in the call room to the managerial staff, everyone at Switchboard is dedicated to making a difference to the lives of those who need them.
“The Promote Your School team wanted to give something back to Switchboard to recognise their amazing work, and help to further boost morale and motivation among staff members. With this in mind, we have donated an additional Wall Art project to Switchboard, free of charge.”
The free project includes the design, print and installation of Wall Art for Switchboard’s reception area. Vibrant designs mirror the look and feel of the Switchboard’s Wall Art timeline, for a cohesive effect.
Now, any volunteers, staff members or visitors who arrive at Switchboard’s HQ will be warmly welcomed to a visually rich environment!
What’s next for Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline?
With a brand new look for their London HQ, Switchboard is now eagerly welcoming back Listening Volunteers to the phone room.
And, the work they do has never been more important or necessary.
There’s still a long way to go before the LGBTQ+ community can feel safe, included and equal in all aspects of their lives. In the meantime, Switchboard’s volunteers will continue to listen to and support anyone who calls their helpline.
Feedback on the new Wall Art from Switchboard volunteers
“The new timeline really makes Switchboard feel like home”
“The quotes outside the phone room are an excellent motivational reminder of why we are still needed”
“Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect mural to celebrate Switchboard’s history”
Call Promote Your School on +44 (0) 20 7404 3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about bespoke Wall Art.