Key Facts About The Intercom Trust
Intercom is a registered charity, registration number 1072772. It is governed by a Board of Trustees under its Constitution. For more information about how to contact us, go to our Contact Us page. For more information about our Constitution and Policies, go to our Policies page. For our Annual Reports and Accounts, go to our Annual Reports page.
Intercom was originally an LGB organisation, but soon after its foundation it became an LGBT organisation. (See below).
Intercom began in the summer of 1997, when eight LGB people started meeting in Exeter to discuss our worries about gaps in local services for LGB people and Trans people. There was a need for advocacy for people who encountered homophobic crime, prejudice or discrimination; there was a dreadful lack of community-led social and support groups for all ages and genders, especially in the rural areas; no-one was providing resources for schools, or campaigning for the needs of young LGB people; no-one was available to work with local government, health, or the business sector to reduce discrimination and provide vital awareness-training for staff and policy-makers. The New Project, as we called it for the first few months, was going to try to do all those things, and it was going to be (above all) led by ordinary LGB people, and responsive to the broadest possible range of LGB community needs. It was never to lose sight of the fact that the great majority of LGB people in the peninsula are not very far Out, and have very good reasons (family, neighbours, work) for choosing not to be further Out than they are.
On 9 September 1997 The New Project was formally set up as a charitable trust, with a long complicated constitution intended to guard and nourish our commitment to being broadly community-led; and it was renamed Intercom.
We called it Intercom to highlight the importance of intercommunication: intercommunication between isolated LGB people and community-led sources of support, and intercommunication between LGB people and the big public authorities which affect all our lives, such as schools, local government, health and the criminal justice system.
We were awarded a start-up grant of £4,700 by the National Lottery in December 1997, which was fantastically, indescribably important: it not only helped enormously with basic infrastructure costs (none of the Founders had any money), it gave us the confidence that other professionals valued the work we were trying to do. In 1998 Intercom became a registered charity (number 1072772). For the first fifteen months we ran Intercom in our spare time, from our own homes, trying to provide advocacy against discrimination and crime, and support local community groups, and start dialogue on LGB issues with public services and across the voluntary and community sector. In 1998 we helped the late, much-missed, Jonno Hindley to set up his Rainbow Café project in Exeter. In 1999 we moved into a one-room office near the Central Library. In autumn 2000 we welcomed our first employee, thanks to a Comic Relief grant to support our work for young people and in schools, and we also moved to our present premises in New Bridge Street.
As far as we have the capacity, Intercom provides services across the South West rural peninsula (our charitable "area of benefit"): Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; Devon, Plymouth and Torbay; Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole; and Somerset, North Somerset and Bath & North-East Somerset.
Originally Intercom was an LGB organisation: none of the Founders was transgendered, and we knew that sexual orientation and gender identity were two very different things. We did not want to trespass on territory that we felt we had no right to. However, we quickly found that many Trans people were asking us for help over crime and discrimination issues, and we discovered that though sexual orientation and gender identity are so different in themselves, the issues of prejudice are very similar indeed. In 2001, at the request of our Trans supporters, friends and service-users, Intercom was proud to become a fully-inclusive LGBT organisation, where LGB and Trans people work together to address those issues we have in common while raising public awareness of the key differences.
Intercom remains passionately committed to being in every way community-led and community-responsive. The Constitution of the Trust has been amended three times since 1997: the current version, our governing document, can be seen here. There are currently five Trustees: Emma (Chair), Andrew, Andrea, Matt and Robert. To contact the Trustees directly write to The Chair of the Trustees, The Intercom Trust, PO Box 285, Exeter EX4 3ZT. Any letter so addressed will be forwarded to the Chair unopened.
All of us work closely together, and share non-confidential information across the team so that we can be aware of the range of current community needs and concerns, and develop policy and strategy on the broadest and most up-to-date knowledge-base possible.
Michael Halls, Executive Director. One of the Founders of the Trust. Michael runs the organisation, and provides all the strategic partnership-working with public authorities (crime, local government, health, etc.).
Andy Hunt, Helpline and Advocacy Service Manager. Joined the Trust in 2006. Andy runs all the helpline and advocacy services.
Lizzie Lidster, Helpline Worker and Administrator (Devon Cornwall Plymouth and Torbay). Joined the Trust in January 2010. Lizzie works with Andy, getting help to LGBT people and others affected by homophobic and transphobic discrimination or prejudice across Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.
Steve Cannon, Community Advocate for Cornwall. Joined the Trust in 2010 and works with Andy providing client support across Cornwall.
Tina Hill-Art, part-time Community Advocate sharing Andy's casework in Devon and Torbay.
Paul Dawson, Office Administrator, works mainly with Michael, sharing and supporting his administrative and project work.
Miranda Nicolson, Strategic Mental Health Project Worker, joined us in 2013 to run our new Comic Relief funded Strategic Mental Health Project. Miranda works with commissioners and providers of mental health services across the whole South West to help ensure equality of access to generic mental health services according to need.
We have a small team of office. Helpline, and other volunteers. We also have two dedicated volunteer counsellors, who provide support for some of our service-users.
Intercom is deeply committed to supporting and developing our volunteer-base. Intercom was founded by people who were already volunteers, and who were determined that the new project would work to the highest possible standards in volunteer recruitment, support, and development.
In most of our service-areas and projects we welcome all skilled applicants without discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (in fact we don't even ask volunteers within these areas whether they are LGB or Trans or not). The exceptions are for those volunteer positions which involve direct work with LGBT individuals and frontline community-groups, or direct consultancy and training of other organisations: that is, consultancy and partnership volunteers, training volunteers, helpline listeners, community advocates, and those parts of the Lynx South West Project which involve direct work with frontline groups.
For information about recent funders, please look at our funding page.