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Switchboard’s 2023 Listen Up! report: The key takeaways

In the report the charity says the number of conversations it had in 2023 rose by 13% to almost 15,000

By Alastair James

Switchboard's new branding to mark 50 years (Image: Switchboard)

Switchboard, the LGBTQIA+ helpline has published its most recent Listen Up! report detailing the conversations it had with service users in 2023.

The charity has been taking calls since 1974, helping people find information, seek support, and community. Since launching the charity estimates there have been around 10,000 volunteers who have participated in over 4 million conversations.

In Wednesday’s (3 July) report, the charity says the number of conversations in 2023 rose by 13% to almost 15,000. This is attributed to more volunteers meaning more conversation can be had. Additionally, the relaunch of its email service has helped.

A high number of callers are considered ‘abandoned’
In 2023 there were 14,733 conversations. 3,884 were had via instant messaging (+7% from 2022), 2,051 by email (+33% from 2022), and 8,798 calls on the phone (+13% since 2022). However, Switchboard believes almost 25,000 calls were ‘abandoned’ which includes people who weren’t able to get through to someone and those who called outside of the daily operating hours (10am-10pm) So, in total there were nearly 40,000 calls in 2023.

The charity has said that all the information included in the 2023 Listen Up! report comes from the service users and the information logged about each conversation by a volunteer. These logs are anonymised as all information is completely confidential and there is a strong emphasis on conversations being non-judgmental spaces.

Relationships is a big talking point
Switchboard found that in 2023 the theme of relationships came up in 42% of conversations (3,914) This included romantic relationships (23%), sexual relationships (20%), and family (18%). Within those people wanted to discuss topics such as arguments with family and friends, dating, polyamorous relationships, coming out, adoption, divorce, and more.

The other big themes identified from 2023’s data are sexuality (39% – 3,663), coming out (25% – 2,350), mental health (25% – 2,322), and gender (25% – 2,293) On sexuality, around 5% of callers identified as straight. The charity has explained that this is a mixture of people calling to discuss family or friends who are or might be LGBTQ+ as well as people calling with questions about sexuality but choose to identify as straight. Switchboard is also having more calls related to people identifying as asexual and/or aromantic.

Gay men people are predominantly using Switchboard
45% of people contacting Switchboard identified as gay. 18% as bisexual, 11% as questioning, 13% as lesbian, 5% as straight, 2% as bicurious, 2% as queer, and 2% as other.

When it comes to mental health, Switchboard noted it was a bigger theme than in previous years. They believe this is a lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as political and cultural moments.

Mental health was a big concern for the young
In 2023, 32% of conversations around mental health came from those under 24 (when age was disclosed) and most people who contacted regarding mental health used the phone service (48% of those 24 and under and 78% for those 25 and over) 18% of conversations about mental health were with people identifying as trans, non-binary, gender-questioning, or gender non-conforming (when gender identity was disclosed)

In 2023, conversations around gender and gender identity increased. Most of these happened via the instant messaging chat service (57% for people 24 and under) and on the phone lines (74% for people aged 25 and over) Volunteers have also noted several spikes in calls regarding trans issues related to news and current affairs including the murder of Brianna Ghey and Rishi Sunak’s anti-trans comments.

More people who identified as having a different gender from the one assigned at birth are contacting Switchboard
In 2021 this applied to 33% of users which jumped to 43% in 2022 and then rose to 46% in 2023.

The Listen Up! reports also details the makeup service users in terms of ethnicity, age, location, faith, and gender. 32% of users disclosed their sexual orientation. 5% disclosed their ethnicity, 30% their age, 21% their location, 2.3% their faith, and 40% their gender.

The Switchboard service users
38% of users are white while 21% are Black, 28% Asian, 9% other, and 4% mixed/multi-ethnic. Meanwhile, most users are 18-24 (25%), 77% are not in London, 38% identify as Christian and 55% identify as male.

In 2023 Switchboard grew its volunteer base by 25%, ending the year with 234. As of May 2024, they have 290. 103 new volunteers were inducted and trained with a completion rate of 87% and a pass rate of 97%. 51 volunteers completed their ‘ratification journey’ meaning they can take calls, instant messages, and emails independently.

Switchboard volunteers
52% of volunteers at the charity identify as gay or lesbian. 20% identify as queer, 9.5% as bisexual, 5.5% as pansexual, 4% as N/A, 2% as demisexual, 1% as biromantic, and more. 47% of volunteers identified as men (including trans men) and 22% as women (including trans women). 9.5% identified as non-binary with others identifying as genderfluid, agender, intersex, and more. 57% of volunteers are White British, although those who don’t identify as that increased 8.4% in 2023.

Read the full report here.

Anyone wanting to sign up to volunteer can do so at Anyone needing to contact Switchboard can do so by calling 0800 0119 100, emailing or contact