One‰’s Place in Community: Service Evolution to Help LGBTIQ People Connect in a Digital Age

Description

Established in 1995, Bfriend is a unique LGBTIQ support service funded by the Government of South Australia and is amongst the last remaining LGBTIQ specific services in SA. Best known for its free peer mentoring program that connects LGBTIQ people with volunteers from the community, these ‰link-ups‰ enable newly identifying people to discuss sexuality or gender identity with someone with lived experience while facilitating social connection with the broader community. While this model has mostly remained the same since the program‰’s inception, the community Bfriend serves has changed. Most notably, social attitudes and technological advancements have impacted upon how people seek support and connect with one another. Dedicated LGBTIQ spaces in SA have been lost, many community groups are disappearing, and there are no LGBTIQ specific services in regional areas. Finding one‰’s place in community is often difficult ‰- especially for those who might struggle with online engagement or social isolation. Within the ever changing landscape of government funded community services, Bfriend has needed to adapt while continuing to deliver the support it has always been known for. The creative use of resources and continued commitment from dedicated volunteers has positioned Bfriend as a unique and invaluable service for those in the LGBTIQ community of South Australia. Join the Bfriend team as they explore the challenges they have faced ‰ÛÒ and opportunities they have found ‰- while helping LGBTIQ people find their place in community in an evolving world.

Presenters

Riki Owens-Bennet | bfriend@unitingcommunities.org

Part of Bfriend for over three years, Riki has enjoyed a steep learning curve in client support and community development. They are passionate about engaging with South Australia‰’s metropolitan and regional LGBTIQA+ communities. Riki strongly believes in empowering community members ‰- especially from hidden or emerging communities ‰- to create safe spaces.

Matthew Morris

With a background in crisis intervention surrounding homelessness, domestic violence and suicide intervention, Matt believes connection to community is fundamental to emotional wellbeing and coping with crises. Within Bfriend, he supports LGBTIQ people to connect with community and consults with mainstream services to develop inclusive practices.