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November 18, 2019
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Today I was thinking about friends as I drove into work. The importance of friends and how those connections keep us whole. Friends come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes we’ll drive across the country to see them, other times it’s a chance meet up or a coffee. Friends do favours for us, they’ll feed our cats or go with us to a difficult appointment, they are there to share our triumphs and our challenges.

Allies are like friends but perhaps we don’t know them very well. They are those people who want to make the world a better place for more than just themselves, they are the ones who understand why it is important to have trans awareness week, why Pride matters. Allies may be those who have passed along the way before or simply want to walk alongside you. Allies may not always get it right but then nor do friends, sometimes we miss each other, words aren’t quite right, but that’s OK too. What counts is the caring, the passion, the support. Allies know why it’s important to #flythetransflag

Chrysalis is all about breaking down the barriers caused by isolation. When you are feeling unsure, when your dysphoria is high, when everyone around you seems to be a threat, then it can be hard to be your authentic self. Joining a new group isn’t always easy and for some it may take several tries to pick up the phone to contact us. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to find those new friends and allies. Those people who will share your triumphs and hold you through the down times. Our facilitators make sure they meet with everyone before they come to their first group, you’ll always have a friendly face to greet you. The Southampton and Portsmouth Wellbeings are a great place to start, come and meet up with everyone in a casual space, nothing serious, no need to bare your soul, then when you are ready you can join the support group, you’ll already know some of the people there so that transition (at least) will be an easy one and remember Wellbeing is for everyone, whatever stage you are at, there’s always a space for you there.

As we move towards Trans Day of Remembrance on Wednesday we take a moment to remember those who didn’t have the friends and allies they needed when they needed them. Those whose lives were taken from them through hate and hurt and violence. Those whose names will otherwise go unheard. We also take a moment to remember our own loved ones lost too soon, those who touched our lives but who lost their own internal battles. You too will never be forgotten.

So it’s in a pensive mood that I look at the week just gone and the week ahead. What did Andi do? Well lots of things! Supervision with two of my incredible team of counsellors; work on the conference and putting together an exciting plan for the day, contacting speakers and making #GenderIdentityMatters2020 the conference of the year!

Tuesday I was delivering training to the QA Mental Health Liaison team (I really, really need to remember to take more photos!). What a great group of colleagues, so great to get everyone thinking about their own identities and finding out just a bit more about each other as well as what it is to be trans.

Wednesday wasn’t the meeting in Basingstoke I thought it was, instead I got to find out more about Basingstoke Citizen’s Advice and the support they offer. Something I love about this job is I get to find out about all sorts of lovely charities and support services, it’s how I can be sure that there are allies everywhere, ordinary people like you and I out there making a difference in big and small ways.

Thursday was really exciting though! Welcome to An, our newest volunteer, who is developing our new website. Watch this space for the next stage in Chrysalis’ transition. We are endlessly developing and growing. If you have an idea you’d like to help us with then why not contact us, Thursday also saw Sheila and I at One Community talking to Naomi about volunteers, volunteering and the radio show.

Wow! I didn’t have any words and now I have too many! Quick. What’s on this week. Monday a toolbox talk for Portsmouth Citizen’s Advice Bureau team and a catch up with Joanne Lockwood, a better ally this charity could not ask for, Tuesday is a chance to meet with the amazing Ani and David from Solent Uni and some more counsellor meetings. Wednesday trustee Orlagh and I are looking at the Queer Broadcasting Project which she is running giving LGBT+ people a voice and presence on social media as well as being Trans Day of Remembrance so I will be at a service either in Bournemouth or Southampton. Thursday consultation and more counsellor supervision. OK, OK, I give in! Does anyone know a counselling supervisor who would like to volunteer a few hours a month for your very own favourite charity? And finally Friday is interviews for the Project Coordinator role and a chat with another potential new trustee. Oh and don’t forget there will be plenty of work going on behind the scenes to arrange Facilitator training and an all service Away Day as well as working on the conference.

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