GAY-GLOS, the organisation formerly known as Gay and Lesbian Friend Helpline, launched its new name and promotional materials at the Guildhall Arts Centre, Gloucester at a lunchtime event today.

Celebrating 16 years of supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Gloucestershire, the new name was chosen to reflect that the organisation is no longer just a Helpline.

In addition to one-to-one support GAY-GLOS has been actively involved in engaging with strategic partners in the voluntary and statutory sectors for several years. It is a major player in district, county and regional partnerships and has been running successful training for individual organisations and for schools under the Healthy Schools initiative.

Recent funding from the Big Lottery has supported the setting up of Rural Friendship Support Groups which are thriving.

Guests at the Guildhall heard from staff and volunteers with the organisation and from some of the partner agencies with whom they work.

Patron, Sir Ian McKellen, was unable to be present but sent the group his warmest wishes for the future, he said: “I just wanted to send my congratulations and birthday greetings to all of you who are involved with GAY-GLOS.

“Over the last 16 years of supporting people in Gloucestershire who need your specialised help, much has changed in the United Kingdom. Old cruel laws have dropped like over-ripe fruit and new better ones have replaced them.

“But old attitudes die harder and prejudice has to be dealt with in the playground, at work, at church, in the street and media, everywhere where people are trapped in suspicion and ignorance of gay people. So keep up the good and necessary work.”