Bfriend

Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide

Since 1995, “Bfriend has filled a big gap in services for people who are questioning their sexuality/gender identity and those who are contemplating coming out – to themselves and others” (Jo Baulderstone, Flinders Institute of Public Policy and Management).

Same-sex attracted, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people share a common experience of that time in our lives when we came out-to ourselves, to family or to friends. Also, many of us share an experience of having decided not to come out to other people. We know about the difficulties encountered when questioning our sexuality/gender identity and how hard it can be to tell other important people in our lives.

We know too, that coming out is not a single moment where we wake up and decide that today is the day… I will come out and it will be alright by tomorrow. We know that it can be a time of great vulnerability. Many of us have to cope with rejection and feeling isolated with no one to talk to about our feelings or answer our questions. As a consequence of this, it often feels like there is nowhere to go to break the isolation and get support. In Adelaide, Bfriend is one avenue to break the isolation.

Bfriend provides support in several ways. When you contact us initially you are free to talk with a project worker without committing yourself to anything. This can be done on the phone, via email or by coming into the Bfriend office. Whatever makes the most sense for you and you feel safest with.

During those conversations you can ask questions, maybe talk about your feelings for the first time with someone who will be pleased that you are exploring your sexuality or gender identity. If it feels like Bfriend is a service that can be of use to you, then we look at linking you up with a volunteer for continuing support. This is the heart of Bfriend’s work.

All of our volunteers are people who are same sex attracted/ transgender. Some are people who have received support from Bfriend in the past. They have participated in a comprehensive training course so that they are aware of their role and the types of support newly identifying people might need.

What our volunteers offer is someone to talk with, ask questions of, help make sense of the GLBT ‘community’, accompany you to events you may be interested in, facilitate introductions to other community members, and other things that are important for you in your exploration. These things are discussed between you and the project worker when you feel ready to be linked up.

During the link up, a project worker will be in regular contact with you to make sure the link is going well and you are feeling okay about it.

Other ways that Bfriend offers support is through our monthly dinners – there is one for women on the 1st Friday of every month @ the World’s End Hotel on Hindley Street, one for men on the 2nd Friday of every month @ the Edinburgh Castle Hotel on Curry Street and one for the Transgender Community, friends and supporters on the 3rd Friday of every month @ the Directors Hotel on Gouger Street.

Bfriend also runs a range of different groups and workshops on an ad hoc basis – depending on community request.

Finally, we produce a bimonthly newsletter which lets subscribers know about what’s going on in the project and also has a “whats on in the community” section and a list of GLBTIQ groups in Adelaide.

Who can get support from Bfriend?

Newly Identifying People

Bfriend is a state-wide programme in South Australia. We have strong connections in Mount Gambier and Port Lincoln. The majority of people who seek support live in the metropolitan area of Adelaide.

Women, men and transgendered people of all ages are able to get support from the programme. We are mindful that many people are questioning their sexuality/gender identity whilst others are in the process of coming out. Our support to you is based on where you are in that journey.

There is no pressure to come out for someone who is questioning their sexuality/gender identity and we know that this is a very personal decision.

We work with a wide variety of people, such as those who are still at school, in a marriage or heterosexual relationship, single parents, single people and from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.

Parents and Family Members

Any parent who has found out that their son or daughter is same sex attracted, transgender or intersex can be supported by a parent volunteer. This support is also available for other family members who want to understand and support their relative.

People Who Have Become Isolated

Often LGBTIQ people find themselves isolated – when relationships end, when we move to a new city or when life’s stresses and strains preclude socialising over an extended period. We have online groups for those who find themselves isolated (see below), but people are also very welcome to contact the service for assistance as well.

Bfriend Yahoo Groups

The Bfriend Isolated Women’s group is for women who live in isolated regions of South Australia or for those women who find themselves isolated for reasons other than where they live. To join the group you need to have a Yahoo membership (which is free) and then go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bfriend_IWG/

The Bfriend Isolated Youth Group is for young people who live in isolated regions of South Australia or young people who find themselves isolated for other reasons. To join the group go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bfriend_IYG/

Once you have joined the groups there is the opportunity to chat with other members, share experiences, discuss issues and make connections. The Bfriend Project Workers act as the moderators for the group.

The Bfriend Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities Project Over the last few years we have noted a distinct increase in the number of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds contacting the service. Bfriend has worked in collaboration with SHine SA and Relationships Australia SA to increase our understanding of the issues for SSA people from CALD backgrounds. We also deliver training to services working with SSA folk from CALD backgrounds. Check out the CALD page of our website for more details http://www.ucwesleyadelaide.org.au/bfriend/cald_home.htm

Bfriend Trans Project

Over the past few years, Bfriend has been working with an increasing number of people who are trans identified or questioning their gender identity. In October 2007, Bfriend was successful in winning a New Initiatives grant from Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide, to employ a worker who identified as transgender and to offer a unique trans-specific service to the queer communities of Adelaide. Over the next 18 months the worker established excellent links with the transgender community, and also with the various agencies, businesses and professionals who provide services to the community. The Transgender Project worker was able to provide gender diversity awareness training to a number of organisations and also some more specific training in working with the transgender community for the other Bfriend workers. Although the Transgender Project is no longer funded – Bfriend is still committed to delivering a service to the transgender community.

Contact

Email us at bfriend@ucwesleyadelaide.org.au

Check out our website : www.ucwesleyadelaide.org.au/bfriend/

Bfriend is a FREE and highly confidential service.

Information on this page courtesy and property of the Uniting Care Wesley. Full information can be found at www.ucwesleyadelaide.org.au/bfriend/

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