Frequently Asked Questions for Icebreakers
- Where and when is the group held?
The group meets every Wednesday evening between 8 and 9:30pm at Number 5 Richmond Street, Manchester M1 3HF – where the LGBT Foundation is based. The offices and meeting room are above Kiki’s Bar on Canal Street; however entry to the LGBT Foundation is on Richmond Street which runs behind Canal Street.
On arrival press the buzzer, say you are here for Icebreakers and you will be let in. Take the lift straight to the 3rd floor. Please do not arrive before 7:50pm as we need to set the room up. Please note that our reception desk closes at 8:30pm so anyone attending must arrive before then.
2. Is it accessible?
There is a lift to all floors from street level. There are also stairs, so if you don’t want to use the lift, say so when you ring the buzzer and someone will open the door to the stairs for you.
Disabled toilets are on the 3rd floor – next to the room we meet in.
- Is it anonymous and confidential?
Yes. At the beginning of the group you will be asked to complete a short monitoring form (first part of your postcode, sexuality, age, first name and family initial). This information can not be used to identify you and is used for data collection and analysis only. You do not have to use your real name of course.
Icebreakers do not ask for your phone number or address, but we will gladly put your e-mail address on our data base to keep you informed of any social events, courses or other issues you might be interested in. This is optional and we NEVER pass it on to other organisations (– not even the LGBT Foundation).
If you say anything private to a volunteer it will remain confidential within the group of volunteers.
- Can I meet someone before the group starts?
We do not meet people externally before the sessions start as that would require extra duties for those volunteers on the rota, however on your first night you will have a private one-to-one chat with a volunteer who will talk about how the group works before you join the group. You will also be given information about other groups and services you could access to help you in your quest for developing a new social circle / making friends. You will also have a chance to address any worries or concerns you may have.
It is suggested new members arrive a bit early (no earlier then 7:50pm please – we need to set up the room) so we have time to start our introduction chats before the group begins at 8pm.
If you are a bit nervous or apprehensive, please don’t worry too much, as everyone has had their first night nerves too, and there will be trained volunteers on hand to help you settle into the group.
We also suggest that it might help if new guys read our advice page on ‘Dealing with a room full of strangers’.
- What’s the age range of the group and how many people turn up to the group?
Icebreakers is for men over 18 with no upper age limit. There tends to be a wide range of ages at the group, so whatever age you are you should feel comfortable.
Group numbers range from 15 to around 35 guys (sometimes more depending on what’s going on).
- What happens at a group session?
Icebreakers is pretty informal. Members do not sit around and discuss things as a group – unless there is a special talk (e.g. Safer Sex or Coming Out) or a Guest Speaker.
Guys are encouraged to mix and mingle, chat to others, have a tea or coffee and relax amongst new friends.
Afterwards the volunteers and most group members go on to one of the bars in Manchester’s Gay Village for a drink and continued socialising – this is optional of course. We tend to go to the Molly House further down Richmond St.
On the occasions there is a group discussion there is no requirement for you to speak out. These talks are meant to inform and to stimulate later discussion. However, if you do want to ask questions or add your experiences to the talk there will be opportunities to do so.
- What’s the environment like?
Icebreakers meet in one of the LGBT Foundation’s larger rooms on the third floor. There is seating space for over 40 guys, an area to make a drink, background music, magazines to read and information booklets to use and take home. There is enough space to mix and mingle or just sit and chat.
- Do I have to be ‘out’?
No! The group is for people who are unsure of their sexuality, as well as people who are out but feel isolated or those already ‘out’ but new to the area. Experiences of ‘coming out’, offered by others, can often help those who are unsure.
The success of this group is that its members mutually support each other and those with experience of ‘coming out’ can often provide help and advice to those who are thinking of starting the process. However there is never any pressure to ‘come out’ – this is totally a personal thing and should be done if and when an individual is fully ready to do so.
9. I need to have a support worker or carer come with me, can I still attend?
We want to make the group as accessible as possible, if you need to be accompanied to Icebreakers by a support worker or carer, please e-mail us prior to a visit, so we can assess the best way to help you and ensure that you get the best from the group.
10. Do I have to let you know I want to join the group?
No. There is no need to contact Icebreakers before attending the group unless you need to come along with a carer (please see Q9 above).
You can just turn up on the night (arrive about 7:50, before the main group starts and before 8:30pm, when our Reception Desk closes). However, if you have specific questions or concerns you can e-mail us via firstname.lastname@example.org (this is checked twice weekly) or call the LGBT Foundation’s Help Desk on 0345 3 30 30 30 (or 0161 235 8035) to talk to someone in person.
11. Are there any social opportunities in the group?
Yes. Icebreakers volunteers try to organise monthly socials – usually during the last weekend of each month. They may have in-house film nights, social nights on Canal St, city or country walks, museum and theatre visits or meals out.
Group members are encouraged to organise their own social gatherings as this helps the development of friendships and gives the members a greater sense of achievement and independence.
12. How long can I attend the group for?
This all depends on you really. Some guys only need the group for a few weeks or months, others a bit longer.
The purpose of the group is to help members to develop new friendships, a social network and to resolve any sexuality or other issues they may have had. We also provide details and introductions to other LGBT social groups that members can join. Icebreakers is not intended as a permanent social group for members to attend, but rather a springboard into the wider gay community. Once members feel that they have achieved the purpose for which they joined, they and their new group of friends often ‘move-on’ and we feel we have succeeded in doing our job, and this also allows more room for new attendees.
It is not uncommon for ex-Icebreakers to still meet us in The Molly House after 9:30pm or even attend our monthly socials.