Bfriend is one of the last remaining LGBTQA+ specific services in SA, currently operated by two part-time workers and housed in Uniting Communities, one of the largest NGOs in the state. Best known for its free peer mentoring program that connects LGBTQA+ people with volunteers from the community, Bfriend has supported Adelaide’s LGBTQA+ community for almost 25 years.
Significant changes have occurred in this time, but the service’s focus has remained on supporting people to connect with community especially around the time of coming out. Central to Bfriend’s efforts is acknowledging that feeling comfortable with who you are and being connected with community is beneficial for a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s through link-ups with volunteers, direct support from the Bfriend community workers, or through the projects Bfriend delivers, the goal of connection and sense of community is at the core of what Bfriend strives to achieve. This continues to be an ongoing ‘work in progress’ due to the evolving needs of the community and the limited capacity to support people in South Australia. The team will share how the service continues to be a valuable method of supporting folk in the LGBTQA+ community here in SA, and the opportunities available as we look forward into the future and approaches its 25 year anniversary.
Riki (they/them) has been in their role at Bfriend for 5 years now and has enjoyed a steep learning curve in client support and community development. They’ve always considered themselves an accidental community worker, having no social work qualifications but they are passionate about providing a safe space for folk to be vulnerable and be able to talk with someone who ‘gets it’, engaging with the local LGBTQA+ communities, and believing in empowering community members to create their own spaces. You’ll often find them listening to an eclectic range of music on their headphones, whilst sipping a soy latte and sharing cheeky memes with colleagues.
Matt (he/him) has a strong background in crisis intervention surrounding homelessness, domestic violence and suicide intervention, and believes connection to community is fundamental to emotional wellbeing and coping with crises. Since joining Bfriend in 2016, he continues to be a rock star in supporting LGBTQA+ people to connect with community and consults with mainstream services to develop inclusive practices, in addition to getting involved in grass roots advocacy for LGBTQA+ issues.