Chrysalis support groups - for adults 18+

Trans and Questioning Support Group

A structured support group providing free one-to-one counselling, life-skills, workshops, peer support and facilitated group work for gender diverse people.
On the first and third Friday of each month.
In Southampton, Basingstoke, Portsmouth & Fareham

Significant Others Support Groups

For family and close friends whose life is impacted by the gender diversity of a loved one
Offering support, free one-to-one counselling, peer support, workshops, and facilitated group work
One evening of each month
In Southampton, Portsmouth&Fareham, Bournemouth, Basingstoke opening soon

Wellbeing Drop-In Centre

A casual inclusive space for all trans, intersex, non-binary and questioning people offering social space, workshops, talks, peer support and access to trained counsellors.
One evening of each month
In Southampton and Portsmouth, Basingstoke opening soon

The location of all the meeting centres is confidential
If you are interested in joining a group then first of all speak to the office team who will run through some questions with you to determine which group is most appropriate for you.
You will then be contacted by one of our facilitators who will arrange a face to face chat with you in a coffee shop or similar so that you have a familiar face and voice to meet you when you attend your first group.
The location of the meetings is only disclosed by the facilitators after they have had this chat, this is for the safety and privacy of all group attendees. Chrysalis recognises that not everyone can be out and would never expect you to conform to any kind of gender expression however we will undertake to always strive to get your name and pronouns right.

Southampton Trans+ Wellbeing Drop In Opening

What Goes On At Groups?

It can be a daunting prospect getting in touch with Chrysalis. We very frequently get people who hang up when we answer the phone; reaching out for help can be really nerve wracking. What am I signing up for? There’s a group… are they sending me to group therapy? I’m not ready to talk about my thoughts and feeling in front of strangers.

Last week I ventured to the Basingstoke Trans* and Questioning group to gain an insight into what happens in these session, which I’d like to share with anyone who would love the support but is (like me) uncomfortable at the notion of walking into a room full of people they don’t know.

I met the facilitator, Hannah, beforehand. We had a great chat with a person looking to be the new co-facilitator, when asked why she wanted to volunteer for Chrysalis her answer was that she wants to do more to help trans* people than just standing up to transphobes online… I think she’s the right person for the job!

Hannah led me to the meeting place, where we met two more volunteers. We set up the room, tea and coffee facilities. Once the beneficiary arrived, Hannah unveiled an array of boardgames, which we played for most of the evening, just us volunteers played together whilst the individual counselling happened… We may have gotten slightly competitive. It was good fun, and despite not knowing a single person, I felt very much at home.

Usually there are several beneficiaries in the Basingstoke group and as there was only one on this evening, she said she felt bad that four of us had come out just for her. Well no, I thought, that’s what Chrysalis is here for; it doesn’t matter if we’re helping just one person or one hundred people – trans lives matter, all of them.

Callum - Fundraising and Social Media Officer

The Frist Bournemouth Trans* and Questioning Group

After a lot of planning and consideration, last week saw the first Trans* and Questioning Support Group in Bournemouth. Our Dorset Area Co-ordinator Julie said the evening “Overall went very well,” and “Bearing in mind that as of this Monday at 9am we had no signed-up beneficiaries, I was pleased with how successful the evening turned out.” Julie spoke very highly of all of the team involved in making the first session happen.

Earlier this week, Dawn made a series of phone calls to people who had connected with us at Bourne Free, where Julie and others in the Chrysalis team held a stand. Julie followed up Dawn's calls later in the day, securing enough attendees to run the first Bournemouth T&Q support group - with another signed up for the following session too.

In a workshop Julie talked about Chrysalis as a charity and other services who operate in the building, she read through the Meeting Centre Agreement, covering boundaries and guidelines that we should follow in the encounter group (utilizing Max's Southampton guidelines).

Our trained counsellors then gave 1-1 counselling for half an hour to each of the beneficiaries, and then the counsellors left for the evening.

Julie then held the Encounter Group with the attendees, a safe space where everyone gets a chance to talk about what’s going on in their life at the moment. It was a very positive and fulfilling session, with both people opening up and discussing their gender identity issues. At the end of the Encounter Group both beneficiaries indicated they were more than happy that the evening met their expectations.

Memoirs of a Wellbeing facilitator in 500ish words

Alan devised and ran the first ever Chrysalis Wellbeing drop in. A space for all trans+ people to meet and socialise in a safe, facilitated space. Before Alan leaves Chrysalis he agreed to share his own experiences and reflections. From myself and the whole Chrysalis team, the volunteers and beneficiaries, I would like to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to Alan for all his hard work and the fantastic legacy he leaves us. I hope you enjoy reading his words.
Andi (CEO of Chrysalis)

"Running and setting up the Wellbeing has been a mixture of amazing and stress (mostly in a good way?). I have had so much fun meeting fellow volunteers and getting to know them and also the new beneficiaries who have come to the Wellbeing.

It all started over a year ago and was designed to be a place for any non cisgendered person to come and meet like minded people in a safe environment. This took a few months to set up and weirdly wasn't as straight forward as I thought. I had many meetings with Andi who helped me to work through the small details like a time, place, who it is for, and also other volunteers to help.

Andi along with the office team helped me to workout a new process to enrolling new beneficiaries, not an easy task. There was so much to think about, a task which for as one as pretty disorganised as myself, was interesting. After a few short months were opened our doors to... one beneficiary and about 5 volunteers. It was great as it meant more cake for us all.

The months rolled on and we managed to enrol new beneficiaries and run the group with actual people, which was anxiety inducing. I had many meetings with Andi who heard my anxieties and worries with a calm demeanour and advice, but I am sure with increasing thoughts of just give it time and stop stressing as the months passed. As the months passed and Max and I learnt more about each other and bounced off each other pulling on each others strengths to welcome the new beneficiaries making them feel welcomed and getting them to meet new people.

Over time our we had our regulars and this meant that we could instigate our secret weapon: Trans-bingo. Trans-bingo was a big success and has been rolled out across the charity and is a big favourite with our beneficiaries. We also learnt that it is would be and now is a great spring board to and from the Exploration groups.

The success of the first Wellbeing enabled it to be copied and all the mistakes and learning curves Max and I learnt from could be avoided. Portsmouth was opened like our one in Southampton to one beneficiary and 4 volunteers. But luckily they came to our one to pick our brains about it and I know that it will be a roaring success soon. The great thing I have learnt is that the Wellbeing is a weird beast and can adapt to any area or occasion and run well even with someone who has severe anxiety about running it (thank you again Andi and Max).

The Southampton group has exceeded my expectations in the fact that it is a wonderful place to come and meet people and it has uplifted my mood many times. I will be sad to leave the group and move on after such a short and crazy time. I am happy in the knowledge that the hard work, stress (mostly good) and anxiety (also mostly good) has paid off. I know that although I am leaving it is being left in very capable hands of Founding Facilitator Max and Hannah who came in about halfway through and unofficially facilitated the group with us.

I just want to end by saying thank you to Max and Andi for the help and support and to Carole and Dawn in the office who's patience and help were much needed and accepted during my whole time as a volunteer. Thank you to the beneficiaries. "

Alan Chrysalis Southampton Wellbeing Drop In founder and volunteer facilitator from Aug 2017 to Jan 2019