30 years gay emergency call

Aus dem DBNA-Magazin vom Oktober 2008

Who can you turn to if you are a gay man and can’t find your way around? In Germany there is the Rosa Hilfe. But how good are they really? DBNA has examined the Rosa Hilfe in Wuerzburg.

The thought torments you for a long time. But none of the friends and acquaintances are suitable to talk about it with him or her. One does not dare, one is afraid. The longer you put the problem off, the more urgent it becomes. Who can I talk to?

As a homosexual, you have your own emergency number for your personal problems: 19446. Nowadays, there is a Rosa Hilfe, a voluntary counselling service from homosexuals for homosexuals, in every big city. No matter if it is about the inner or outer coming-out, problems in the relationship, if you want information about homosexual life in the region or if you want to know something about sexual intercourse, contraception or HIV/AIDS, there you will get the necessary, anonymous and uncomplicated support.

The Würzburg Rosa Hilfe has been there for thirty years. The first written record dates back to 1978. A leaflet states: “Thursday, 26.10., 18-20h ROSA telephone, advice and information”, plus the number of a private line, something that has changed since then. Today there is also the nationwide number 19446 for the people of Wuerzburg, which forwards directly to the local Rosa Hilfe. The home of Rosa Hilfe Wuerzburg is now the Wuerzburger Schwullesbisches Zentrum WuF e.V.

In recent years, Rosa Hilfe has expanded its range of counselling services. It is no longer only available by telephone, letter, fax or e-mail, but also via chat. The latter has already become for the volunteers an “indispensable medium for low-threshold counselling services” (that is help under anonymity on the phone and in chat) as they say themselves. Rosa Hilfe Wuerzburg naturally adheres to the principles of chat counselling developed by the AIDS Hilfe as: freedom of values, client anonymity, recognisability as a counselling institution, restraint towards other users and no use of one’s own private profile on the platform. In addition, there are always two people present during the counselling hours on Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.: for the bundling of knowledge, which enables a higher-quality counselling service, but also for immediate debriefing and reflection on the discussions.

Markus (26) has now been helping for four years with the Wuerzburg Rosa Hilfe. “I wanted to professionalize what I have always done anyway”, the man from Lower Franconia explains his motivation. The social aspect was also added for him, as he had simply grown out of the youth group at the age of 24, but wanted to continue his commitment. Smiling, he also says: “Working with Rosa Hilfe is a bit of a balance for me, because it is more tangible and in the end there is a result that makes it more fulfilling than my work as a research assistant at the university.

Since the members of Rosa Hilfe Wuerzburg are constantly training themselves, Markus was able to really professionalize himself compared to his youth work, which never took such intensive care. As far as it is possible on a voluntary basis, they want to give professional advice in order to be able to help effectively. For this purpose, the Rosa helpers visit other counselling centres such as the crisis service or the AIDS counselling centre, get training in conversation skills and organise an annual weekend together with Rosa Hilfe Nuernberg. Since 2007, the Wuerzburg team has had regular supervision, i.e. support in reflecting on and improving the advice given by a social education worker.

But the further training and quality of the counselling also wants to be financed. For this reason, Rosa Hilfe Wuerzburg has been organising the so-called Rosa Hilfe Gala for 5 years now, a colourful evening with artists from the region who have renounced their fees. The event is well attended and is also appreciated and supported by the representatives of the city.

“However, it is important that we are not a therapy centre”, Markus clarifies. They could only provide limited help and advice. If they notice that the topic is too delicate because someone needs professional help, then they have the appropriate contacts to trained specialised counselling and therapy services, in the extreme case to psychiatric hospitals. Markus says: “We know our own limits, we respect and observe them. For us as semi-professional, voluntary consultants, this means quality assurance”. The staff do not intervene themselves, they take themselves back, which means that the client has to help himself and should find the solution himself with the help of the counselling that asks and reflects back. Here the person is in the foreground and not the consideration of a “needy person” or even “sick person”.