The LGBTQ+ community has slowly but surely gained acceptance in India. That being said, community members still face discrimination and resistance from various sections of society, often even from their own family members and friends.
Pride Month, celebrated annually in June, is not only a commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, but it also aims to fight for the community’s dignity and equality. The events of the month include a wide range of activities––from parades and fashion shows to webinars, workshops, memorials and much more.
The idea is to fuel conversations about the battles that the community has fought, raise awareness about the struggles that members may currently be facing, and work towards a safer and brighter future.
When it comes to furthering the cause and bringing the community and its allies closer, cloud technology can play a crucial role.
Cloud telephony solutions help people listen, talk, and collaborate.
Whether it is toll free numbers, multi-level IVRs, bulk SMSes, or voice broadcasting, cloud-powered tools can help the community connect and communicate internally and externally.
Keeping this in mind, various authorities and NGOs have set up toll free helplines such as Sahaay and iCALL for the queer community in India. These helplines are mostly free to call and available 24×7 to relay crucial information regarding health, legal, and psychological issues.
Let’s look at how toll free numbers can help the LGBTQ+ cause
A toll free number comes with an array of benefits—call monitoring, call recording, and analytics that can help NGOs and organisations analyse and gauge a situation better.
Here are a few features that make toll free solutions one of the best services to help the LGBTQ+ community:
1. Quick recall:
An 1800 number is easy to remember when compared to any other number. Moreover, it is free to call. Consequently, people are likelier to get in touch with counsellors to seek advice or share their struggles.
2. Ease of portability:
Since cloud solutions don’t require any hardware, toll free numbers are completely portable.
For instance, if an LGBTQ+ support group moves from one location to another, they needn’t purchase a new number. They can simply retain their current number. This not only saves time and prevents the hassle of memorising a new number for callers but the volunteers also don’t need to familiarise themselves with new call flows.
3. Customised support:
Toll free helplines can easily be customised to protect a caller’s identity––a major concern among community members. This can be done via the number masking tool and turning off call recording. Callers can then have a detailed discussion about their fears and problems without worrying about being outed.
4. 24*7 support:
Issues related to sexual identity, abuse, and health are very subjective and often take a toll on mental health. Toll free services offer round-the-clock support, enabling the members of the LGBTQ+ community to seek help whenever they desire, wherever they are—and without any hesitations.
5. Affordable communication channel:
As the name suggests, toll free numbers cost nothing to the callers. Thus, people can talk freely with counsellors for as long as they want without thinking of mounting charges. Additionally, support groups can subscribe to toll free services at rates much lower than regular telephone services.
6. Wider reach:
People belonging to the LGBTQ+ community exist in all parts of our country, and toll free numbers make it possible to reach everyone easily. Professionals can offer support and disseminate information even in regional languages for wider audience penetration.
7. Seamless communication:
When people call to discuss problems related to their issues, they want to be heard patiently. A smooth and disturbance-free conversation with professionals is what they seek. And a toll free number ensures just that. It facilitates seamless communication, even on low bandwidth, with the counsellor so that callers can get quick and effective assistance.
Toll free numbers come with a variety of features that can help the LGBTQ+ community in India in various ways.
For instance, toll free numbers when integrated with IVRs, offer smart multi-level routing, allow groups to gather feedback and conduct surveys, and deliver important information via messages-on-hold.
Similarly, support groups may use the bulk SMS service in tandem with toll free numbers to quickly deliver information, irrespective of the network in their locality.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown have gravely affected the LGBTQ+ community and its livelihood. The restrictions left many members isolated, without any mental and physical support.
For some, poor mental health is just the tip of the iceberg. The pandemic exacerbated a combination of several other issues that affected the community in different ways.
In such scenarios, running awareness campaigns can be of great help. Each campaign can be allotted a toll free number to track the details of what topics need more attention. And, for those callers who are confused about their identity or simply wish to speak to someone who understands, their window towards clarity will just be a call away.
These numbers will also help NGOs and support groups measure the efficiency of these campaigns with the help of various relevant metrics. Ultimately, this will help the movement develop better strategies and execute decisions more efficiently.
Thus, helpline numbers can be a great tool to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression.
To wrap up
Even though Pride Month has come to an end, there are plenty of questions and fears among the LGBTQIA community that go unanswered every day. Unfortunately, they don’t even know who to turn to.
Therefore, it is essential to ensure effective communication and easy access to resources so they can quickly seek help. Having a toll free number as a helpline for the LGBTQ+ community will not only ensure this but will also allow greater flexibility for the professionals and counsellors on the other end of the line.
These numbers are convenient, cost-effective, customisable and go beyond geographical barriers to reach a wider audience. With their easy recall value and a series of other advantages, both parties can benefit from them.
Hence, using toll free numbers as a helpline for the LGBTQ+ community is a step in the right direction.