Since the beginning of the pandemic, the telephone line of the body Spaced – formerly Cheerful Listening – is not fading. More than a third of the calls received this year related to the COVID-19.
“There has been an increase of 30% to 40% of the volume of calls compared to last year,” explains Pascal Vaillancourt, director general of the agency, which is concerned about the devastating effects of isolation on the distress experienced in the community of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, etc).
Spousal and family violence has also increased. These cases represent nearly 18% of the calls received this year in line Spacing.
“Calls are much more heavy since the beginning of the crisis. We see an increase in suicidal thoughts and anxiety “, he adds.
The body NET, which offers help to gay men, trans and bisexual near Gay Village in Montreal, also notes a feeling of depression and a lot of isolation.
“For guys who live alone and who used the sexual or casual encounters to break down the isolation, it is not easy,” explains Alexandre Dumont Blais, co-general manager.
According to Mr. Vaillancourt, the closure of organizations providing in-person services, and lack of access to health care themselves also aggravate the precariousness of trans people who need medical follow-up.
A déconfinement disturbing
The two community organizations are now preparing to face the uncertainties of the déconfinement.
“There are things that we don’t know at this time because there is no access as before to our customers, ahead of Mr. Dumont Blais. We are going to have more STDS? More mental health issues ? “
Mr. Vaillancourt is hoping that the grant of $ 300,000 provided by the government, insufficient to provide the service twenty-four hours, will be more recurrent.
“We do fund-raising to compensate and now they are canceled this year because of the COVID. We will need a lot of support, ” he concludes.
Help sex workers
According to Mr. Dumont Blais, trans men, gay and bisexual people are more likely to turn to sex work to offset the lack of revenue in a pandemic.
“A good part of the sex workers that we reach experience a lot of insecurity, so we re-started our programme of street work with a protocol approved by the public health,” he explains.
This program provides assistance to sex workers as well as prevention materials and information.