Article Title:Neville Creighton – a call minder retires
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:18th October 2006 - 12:00 pm
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Story ID:1453
Text:Neville Creighton After over a decade fronting the organisation, Gayline/Lesbianline's Neville Creighton has announced his retirement, and says he's now looking forward to a good rest! “It was hard to think of stopping,” Neville tells from his Gay and Lesbian Welfare office desk in downtown Auckland. “There are regular callers I have on-going contact with. Watching them develop and ‘blossom', and then later meeting them out there in the community, you realise they've made it.” In a former life, Neville was a minister of the Presbyterian Church and a guidance counselor at Glenfield College. He's had two long-term relationships – a marriage, and after he came out, a 12-year relationship with a man. He'd been volunteering at Gayline for a few years before taking it on full-time in 1995. “It was much smaller in those days, we only had 30 volunteers, now we have 75. It's developed a lot – we're now quite well-known out there, not just in the gay community but amongst other agencies as well.” PAYING THE BILLS Getting funding for the organisation has always been a struggle, but “the networking pays off,” Neville reveals. “I missed a recent funding interview, and on the day they were doing their allocations, they rang me and said ‘you've missed the interview – what's the situation?' Now, normally when you miss an interview, that's it. You're ignored when it comes to funding that year. But she said, ‘we know that you turn up to all the right things and pull your weight, so we accept your apology and let's get on with it!' So the networking is really very important, and it's good for yourself too, you can meet a much wider group of people. “Some funders have turned us down a couple of times but have also given to us a couple of times. It's just to do with the call that's on their money – but we can always do with more funding.” HOTLINE Neville has made many long-term friends, a few flatmates and even met his partner, taxi driver Jabed, through Gayline. “He's from Bangadesh. He came in originally because his immigration stuff was in a bit of a mess. So I helped sort that out for him a bit. And he kept coming back! I'd always thought he was cute, and a nice guy, and eventually he sort of came on to me,” Neville smiles. “We've been living together one year now. But the immigration stuff drags on and on. He's a very pleasant person to live with. We're really comfortable and easy with each other, in spite of the fact that he's stressed out by immigration, and by his family situation at home.” PROBLEM CALLERS His time with Gayline has seen Neville field thousands of calls from around the country - men and women questioning their sexuality, or dealing with relationship, immigration, safe sex, health and legal issues. Some are simply lonely, isolated people needing to reach out to someone, and that can become a problem if calls become too regular and lengthy. “You get people who call us and they just make no progress whatsoever. They are just so ‘locked in', they need long-term counseling, but they either can't afford it, or they don't want to do it, or all sorts of reasons. We just get nowhere with them, it's sad. “There are regular callers. We dropped a lot of those, but just in the last couple of months we've picked up a few more. All the phonelines get them. We're a bit harder now than we used to be. We get people who ring us, who aren't really our concern – they don't know whether they're gay or not, like it depends what day they talk. You then find that they're mental health users, on medication, and they don't know who they are. We're saying now that they're not our responsibility. They've got their health and support systems going, and so many of them have abused them so much that even the health system says ‘when you're prepared to do what you're supposed to do, we'll be there for you then'.” CALL DIVERSION 2005 was a good year for Neville – he became a Civil Union Celebrant, and his long-term hard work earned him a Queen's Service Medal in January for services to the community. Accepting the medal, he was quick to thank all the volunteers who give up evenings and weekends to help pick up the 300 to 350 calls Gayline receives each month. This year though, Neville knows it's time to ‘hang up'. “I had a heart attack three years ago, and a hip replacement. The last month or so, I've been a little concerned about my heart, and I think that's the stress.” So he made plans to ensure the organisation would be in good hands going forward. “This is my third retirement – but this time it may stick! The Board has made a new appointment, and it's one I'm very happy with. “Neil Denney is my replacement. He's had a long experience with community organisations. It's quite a new board, and they have some settling down to do. A couple of them on there are quite experienced, and some are not. That has to balance out – I'm sure it will,” he observes. CALLING AHEAD Neville sees a bright future for the organisation he's spent so long building up. “We're looking at turning into a gay and lesbian centre. Developing beyond the phone lines, using the large premises we've got now, which are so good. Plus, getting more resources for another staff member. Developing connections with other community groups. The HERO Festival has already taken one of our offices. We're beginning to be a centre for people. That's where I see it going.” Despite his need for some Rest and Relaxation, Neville knows it won't be long before he takes on another project. “My son lives on Waiheke Island and has a Vineyard and winery there among other things. They've built a beautiful house, but they've moved out of it, into another house on the Vineyard. The one they've moved out of, they're renting it out because they couldn't sell it. I just think – wouldn't it be a nice place to turn into a B   Matt Akersten - 18th October 2006
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