The dark nights are here, the weather is colder, the TV is full of adverts filled with happy family scenes and I’m sure Mariah Carey is singing her festive number earlier every year.
Although many love this time of year there are also those who will struggle for a whole range of reasons - the cost of living crisis, families separated by conflict and those who don’t have contact with their family at all. Although we can’t solve any difficulties you’re having, we can make sure you’re aware of all of the available support this winter and ways you can look after yourself and reach out for help if you need it.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has a range of advice on the cost of living crisis including checking what benefits you are entitled to, help with your energy bills, checking how to make your home more energy efficient and how to get help with essential costs.
Trans Aid Cymru offers a range of grants to trans, intersex and non-binary (TIN) people who are in need in Wales. They allocate grants for general assistance, emergency funds and surgery aftercare as well as a fundraising booster grant.
MindOut the LGBTQ mental health service has their own 12 Days of Winter Wellbeing advice. A lot of it is common sense but when we are feeling low we often can’t focus on some of the things we know we should do.
If you need to speak to someone and it feels difficult to talk to friends or family then there are a range of support services you can access. Umbrella Cymru offer flexible support on a range of LGBTQ+ topics including identity, confidence, coming out, gender identity support, crime, criminal justice and hate as well as family support. They tailor their support to the individual and offer a blend of services that are designed around your needs to help you get the best out of their support.
Not everyone finds it easy to access their GP or you may not feel as though they are particularly good at supporting you from a sexual orientation or gender identity perspective but they are there to provide help and guidance if you are struggling with your mental health so talk to your GP to see what options are available to you.
We all recognise that there are times when the support you need or the support a friend needs is more immediate. The Samaritans run a helpline that you can call Monday to Sunday on 116 123 and there is a Welsh Language Line available Monday to Sunday 7pm to 11pm on 0808 164 0123. These calls are free. The mental health charity Mind offers advice on finding out what support is available to you and in particular finding the best crisis services for you. If you think your life or someone else’s is at risk then you should call 999 or go to A&E if you can.
There can be lots of pressure to be sociable at this time of year but if what you really want to do is a bit of hibernation and self care then make sure you do exactly that. The most important thing you can do is look out for you and if you need help and support reach out for it. Someone will want to help you.