Do you aspire to a society where all LGBTQIA+ people are informed and empowered? Motivated to support our communities by creating a safe space for any discussions around sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional well-being? For the first time, we are looking to co-opt two new trustees from outside of our volunteers who have legal expertise and crisis communications experience, to join the Switchboard family and help us celebrate our upcoming 50th anniversary.
Switchboard is the national LGBTQIA+ help and support line across the UK. Ever since we took our first call in 1974, we’ve been at the heart of these communities and had over 4 million conversations with people who just needed someone to listen. Now, in our 49th year, we are available from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., 365 days a year, through phone, instant messenger and email, at the forefront of supporting our communities on the issues that affect them most.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Switchboard’s creation. Founded on March 4th, 1974, in a small room above a bookshop near King’s Cross Station, we helped people to come out after the 1967 partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality. Since then, we have continued to adapt. We were the leading source of information on HIV/AIDs during the 1980s, supported the lesbian, gay and trans communities throughout Admiral Ducan pub bombing in Soho in 1999, have seen huge changes in legal equality and information proliferation, and are at the frontlines of supporting a community emerging from the pandemic faced with a troubling social and political climate.
We are non-judgmental to our core. All our members identify as LGBTQIA+ and understand people contact us for many reasons – nothing is off-limits. We provide a safe space to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional well-being. We aspire to a society where all LGBTQIA+ people are informed and empowered.
Switchboard is in a period of growth underpinned by ambitious leadership. We have established a growing staff team, and we are no longer fully volunteer-run. We are working hard to develop our organisation and strategic direction, including diversifying our income to build a sustainable business model. As we have expanded corporate partnerships and individual giving and have received generous legacies over the last few years, we continue to develop a number of partnerships with corporates including Ikea, Superdrug, Costa Coffee, Unilever and many more. Due to this, Switchboard is in a solid financial position and we are excited to capitalise on our 50th anniversary. We also seek to expand our training and bring in additional income in the process.
Our volunteers come from across the UK and the world, and we need to more than double our numbers given the increase in demand for our support. It is clear from our Listen Up! Impact Report that there is an increasingly diverse pool of service users who are reaching out to us, so we need to ensure we have an equally diverse set of listening volunteers moving forward. We are building an e-learning hub to attract, recruit, train and support volunteers remotely whilst maintaining a consistent level of service across phone, chat and email.
Our Board’s culture is collaborative and open, with a good balance of challenge and support, and our trustees share an incredible level of engagement and dedication to our charity and members. Over the last few years, our Board has been on a journey from leading an organisation that was predominantly run and led by volunteers, to having an experienced, dedicated staff team.
Because of this, the Board has moved from being largely operational to focusing on strategic leadership, governance and oversight of Switchboard. Up to now, the only way to be a trustee was to join us as a volunteer, this is now changing to meet the needs of a growing organisation and we are looking to appoint Co-opted Trustees to the Board.
We are looking for two people with two key skills – legal knowledge and communications experience.
Our new Co-opted trustees will be collaborative, supportive, challenging and aligned with our values as an LGBT+ organisation. Alongside this, they will be excellent communicators and be excited to support us as we continue to develop, grow and have an impact on our communities. In particular, we are looking for someone with a strong background in the legal profession. As we grow our brand partnerships and develop our external training package, we need someone who can bring the experience of critical and objective thinking that training in the legal profession brings. This could be from any area of law, and we are open to experience in different sectors and positions.
We also seek a trustee who can provide communications experience. We pride ourselves on strong governance and our credible and trusted reputation – we always act in the best interest of our members and service users. We want to ensure we have a trustee on our board with experience in communications and particularly in crisis comms who can support us to engage and respond in times of need and challenge, who can offer specialist advice, and support us as we grow and develop our communications expertise internally.
This is an exciting time to join Switchboard given our growth and impact, and next year we celebrate 50 years of supporting our communities. Join us and support leading our organisation at a time when we are more determined than ever to be there for our communities, with our commitment to ensure “No contact goes unanswered, and is met with a quality service from volunteers that are reflective of the LGBTQIA + communities”.
Our Board currently meets once a month in the evening between 7-9 p.m. on the first Tuesday, but this will change over the next 6 months or so to quarterly board meetings and subcommittee meetings. Our Board has a hybrid monthly meeting which members attend in person at our Islington offices or online. We expect the time commitment to be the equivalent of up to a day a month spread across various activities such as preparation for board meetings, reading board papers, attendance at our AGM and strategy away day, ad hoc discussions and conversations with board members and staff, and attending events throughout the year. We are an organisation that embraces technology and accessibility and all meetings include remote participants.
In line with this plan, we actively welcome applications from trans and non-binary people and people of colour, as well as those from other minoritised communities of faith, class, or disability. Our Board diversity is embedded into our organisation and our articles – 50% of the board come from under-represented groups to ensure a diverse range of perspectives, views and lived experiences. All our volunteers and our board members identify as LGBTQ+.
We are Switchboard, the LGBT+ Helpline.
We are a safe space for anyone to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional well-being.
We support people to explore the right options for themselves.
We aspire to a society where all LGBT+ people are informed and empowered.
The Switchboard Promise
We are non-judgemental. And we never tell you what to do.
We are confidential. You can trust us.
We are you too. All our volunteers identify as LGBTQ+
Throughout 2020 and 2021, our listening volunteers handled 33,139 conversations. Through this, we saw a noticeable increase in service users contacting us to talk about isolation and gender.
People call for a variety of reasons including:
Everyone who reaches out to Switchboard with concerns, hopes, and fears, helps to give us a greater understanding of what is happening to LGBTQIA+ people in the UK.
Switchboard is an inclusive service where we will talk to anyone who reaches out to us, from within the LGBTQIA+ communities and beyond.
Switchboard is a safe space for people to explore their thoughts and experiences, where we empower people to engage with their feelings and beliefs and reflect on why they hold them. We talk to people confidentially, in a non-judgmental and non-directive manner.
As an LGBTQIA+ charity, we recognise and celebrate the intersectionality of our communities and wider society.
We oppose all forms of sexism, misogyny, racism, queerphobia, heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism or any other form of discriminatory language or behaviour which may involve a combination of these. We oppose other forms of discrimination or discriminatory language, or behaviour not listed here. In our conversations with callers, we will challenge any of the above.
At Switchboard we will not accept offensive language or behaviour towards our staff, volunteers, callers or potential callers.
We believe in inclusion for everyone, and particularly for those who are under-represented or marginalised due to:
We aspire to a society where all LGBTQIA+ people are informed, empowered, and treated and treat others with mutual kindness and respect.
Please note ‘this statement is correct as of 13/08/2020 but may be subject to change as we continue to update our policies and develop as an organisation’.
To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.
Please ensure that your application is emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org inserting “Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline – Co-opted Trustees” into the subject field.
For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:
Jennifer Horan | email@example.com | 07519 070497
Jonah Graham | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07538 756654
As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.
If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.
If you experience any technical or accessibility difficulties, need help making an application, or have any additional support needs to be considered as part of the interview and selection process, please let us know.
Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.
Closing date: Wednesday 15th November 2023
We are in the process of confirming interview dates. We will update the site once confirmed and contact those who have applied.
Peridot and Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact. The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.