Started 1974 .... or 1975 .... or 1976
We simply copied the first such service, London Gay Switchboard, which started in 1974. The idea being that - in the method of the old telephone switchboards - we would connect people to appropriate information and services. At the moment (2008) there is a debate about changing our name, but a survey on this has yet to reach any clear conclusions, though the suggestion which at the moment leads the field is "stick with your current name".
Switchboard's three names
Later, to recognise that some women did not feel that the word "gay" applied to them, we added "Lesbian" in 1991.
In 2004 we added Nottinghamshire to demonstrate that our service covered the whole county. We knew it did, but by adding the "Nottinghamshire" bit and taking on a second phone line with a North Notts friendly dialling code, we tried to make our coverage more explicit.
Why three starting dates?
In 1974 we began as a drop-in service offering face-to-face information.
In 1975 we acquired a phone line.
In 1976 we started using the name "Switchboard".
Having three starting dates is quite useful when celebrating major anniversaries, as we can celebrate them three years running.
When Switchboard first started, like many similar helplines it received a lot of hoax and abusive calls. In terms of hoaxing, sometimes it was clear that it was the caller who had been hoaxed.
Click on the buttons below to hear Switchboard volunteers talking about some of the calls they took.
To return to People Talking, click HERE
To return to Our Heritage, click HERE
To return to the Timeline, click HERE
Most of Switchboard's work and history can be viewed on its website by clicking HERE It is a sign of the times that in 2011 Switchboard, for the first time, received more contacts by e-mail and texts than by phone. Switchboard also has a presence of Facebook, Twitter and Gaydar.
In 2015, Switchboard produced a 40th anniversary booklet. To download the booklet, click HERE
Switchboard developed out of Nottingham CHE. To find out about Nottingham CHE click HERE
If you are having difficulty downloading any files, copy and paste the following link into your browser www.nottsrh.webeden.co.uk