Icebreakers were set up in 1986 by a group of volunteers from Manchester’s Lesbian and Gay Switchboard Services. Initially meetings were held on Bloom Street.
ML&GSS then moved to the purpose built Gay Centre on Sidney Street, off Oxford Road.
In 2000 ML&GSS (including Icebreakers) joined forces with Healthy Gay Manchester to form The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) and we moved into what was once the BBC’s Sports & Social Club on Charles Street and renamed Unity House.
In July 2004 Icebreakers became an independent group with it’s own Constitution as an Unincorporated Association. This gave us the freedom to apply for our own funding, recruit our own volunteers and determine our own Policies and Procedures.
In 2007, our 21st year, the Manchester Evening News ran an article about us. This was quite a ‘biggie’ for us as it was the first time the group got any recognition from the ‘straight’ media. We also entered the Manchester Gay Pride Parade for the first time.
Although we are fully independent of the LGF / LGBT Foundation (as it became known in 2015) we work very closely with them for the benefit of our Service-Users.
Each time they have moved buildings we have moved with them – keeping a continuity of service for our members. Thus in 2005 we moved to Princess House on Princess Street and then in 2010 we moved in with the LGF at Number 5 Richmond Street.
In June 2011 Icebreakers were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.
We were particularly proud as it was our 25th year of service delivery. We celebrated by entering Manchester Pride Parade with a theme of ‘Best of British’ we won the Best Walking entry too!
In August 2015 we were shortlisted for a Spirit of Manchester Award in the Volunteer Involving Category.
2016 is our 30th year of service provision and it started as a busy year. Our Wednesday night group session attendances were hitting 45 plus regularly and 4 of our most experienced volunteers were retiring, after over 65 years of volunteering between them.
To smoothly reformulate and refocus the volunteer team went on a residential training weekend in Hartington, Derbyshire, where we could plan for the future of Icebreakers as well as train up new volunteers into the soon to be vacant roles.
In June 2016 we were delighted to again be shortlisted for the Spirit of Manchester Awards. This year for 2 categories: Volunteer Team of the Year and Health & Wellbeing. We will find out the results in October.
During the COVID lockdowns Icebreakers became a virtual group holding meetings every Wednesday evening to support service users in isolation. We were even able to reachout to other service users all over the country and include them in the group.
Once COVID lockdowns had eased Icebreakers started to use a meeting room in The Friends Meeting House in Mount Street Manchester
When the LGBT Foundation had re established an office/meeting rooms in Saclkille Street Manchester Icebreakers moved back in with our old friends. To many of the service users and volunteers we felt as thought we were back home.