When: Every Wednesday, 8pm - 9.30pm
Icebreakers is a mutual support group for gay and bisexual men who are ether just ‘coming out’, who are already ‘out’ but new to the area, or who are experiencing feelings of isolation (perhaps due to the failure of a long-term relationship, for example).
Icebreakers is facilitated by a trained and dedicated team of volunteers who provide a free, safe, confidential and welcoming space in which group-users can meet each other in order to form supportive and enduring friendships and social networks.
Occasionally, meetings will include talks about ‘coming out’, sexual health and wellbeing, or dating. At other times, guest speakers from other Manchester groups or organisations of interest to gay and bisexual men are invited along to talk about their activities. Examples are OutDoorLads, Northern Wave, Pride Sports, and the like.
The group meets every Wednesday night from 8pm until 9:30pm at the LGBT Foundation, 5 Richmond Street, Manchester.
The group is for men who live as men and who are aged 18 years or older.
Frequently Asked Questions for Icebreakers
1. Where is the group held?
The group is held at Number 5 Richmond Street, Manchester M1 3HF, where the LGBT Foundation is based. The offices and meeting rooms are above Queer on Canal Street, but entry to the LGBT Foundation is on Richmond Street which runs parallel to Canal Street. On arrival, press the door entry button, say that you are there for Icebreakers and you will be let in. Using the lift, go directly to the 3rd floor where the group meets.
2. Is it accessible?
Yes. There is a lift to all floors from street level. There are also stairs, so if you don’t want to use the lift, say so when you ring the buzzer.
3. Is it anonymous and confidential?
Yes. On first attending the group you will be asked to complete a simple registration form requiring your first name, your age, the first part of your postcode, and your sexuality. You do not have to use your real name if you don’t want to, of course. This information cannot be used to identify you; it serves only to help the volunteers analyse the nature of the clients using the group over time so they can spot and respond to any trends.
Icebreakers does not ask for your phone number or address, but will gladly put your e-mail address on their mailing list to keep you informed of any social events, courses or other events you might be interested in. This is optional, and your address is NEVER passed on to other organisations (not even the LGBT Foundation).
4. Can I meet someone before the group starts?
On your first night you willhave a short one-to-one chat with a volunteer who will talk about how the group works before you join in with the group. You will also be given information about other groups and services you can access to help you in your quest to develop a new social circle and make friends. You will also have a chance to voice any worries or concerns you may have. We suggest new members arrive a bit early (around 7:45pm) so that they have time to complete their introductory chat before the evening meeting starts.
If you are a bit nervous or apprehensive, please don't worry too much as most people have a few ‘first night nerves’. There will always be volunteers on hand to help you settle into the group.
5. What is the age range of the group and how many people turn up to the group?
Icebreakers is for men over 18 with no upper age limit. There are normally men of a wide range of ages attending the group so, whatever your age, you should feel comfortable.
Group numbers vary but generally range from 15 to 25 guys, and sometimes there may be many more depending on the weather, the time of year, and what’s going on.
6. What happens at a group meeting?
Icebreakers is pretty informal. Group-users don’t sit around and discuss things like at a debating group. Unless there is a special talk (like about safer sex or coming out) or a guest speaker, then the guys just mingle, drink tea or coffee, and chat in a very relaxed way so as to make finding new friends easy and natural.
On the occasions when there are group discussions, there is no requirement for you to speak out. These talks are meant to inform and to stimulate later debate. However, if you do want to ask questions or add your experiences to the talk, then there will be opportunities to do so.
After 9:30pm the volunteers and most group-users go on for a drink and continued socialising. This part of the evening is optional if you need to get home early or just don’t like bars or places where alcohol is served.
7. What is the environment like?
Icebreakers meets in one of the LGBT Foundation’s larger rooms on the 3rd floor. There is seating space for over 30 guys, an area in which to make drinks, background music, magazines to read, and information booklets to use and take home. There is enough space to mix and mingle or just sit and chat.
8. Do I have to be 'out'?
No. The group is for people who are unsure of their sexuality, as well as people who are ‘out’ but new to the area or feeling isolated. The sharing of others’ experiences of ‘coming out’ can often help people who are feeling unsure.
The success of this group is that its members support each other, and those with experience of ‘coming out’ can often provide help and advice to those who are thinking of starting the process. However, there is never any pressure to ‘come out’ – this is a completely personal thing and should be done only when an individual feels they are fully ready to do so.
9. Do I have to let Icebreakers know I want to join the group?
No. There is no need to contact Icebreakers first; you can just turn up on the night (arrive about 7:45pm). However, if you have specific questions or concerns you can e-mail them to:
This mailbox is checked almost daily. Alternatively, call the LGBT Foundation’s Help Desk on 0345 3 30 30 30 to talk directly to someone.
10. Are there any social opportunities in the group?
Yes. Icebreakers volunteers organise monthly social events, usually during the last weekend of each month. They may have in-house film nights, social nights in the Gay Village, city or country walks, museum and theatre visits, or meals out.
Group members are encouraged to organise their own social gatherings as this helps the development of friendships and gives the members a greater sense of achievement and independence.
11. How long can I attend the group for?
This all depends on you, really. There is no fixed time limit. Some guys only need the group for a few weeks or months, others a bit longer.
We hope that after you have been coming for some time, you will develop new friendships and a social network, and will have resolved any sexuality or other issues you may have had. Group-users usually leave once they have done this, because their main need for attending Icebreakers has been satisfied.
It is not uncommon for previous attendees of Icebreakers to still meet in the bar after 9:30pm or to begin attending Outmates (an off‑shoot of Icebreakers that also meets on Wednesday nights).
Members Agreement for Icebreakers:
- You should be welcoming to all members of the group and help provide a friendly, supportive environment.
- Anything discussed in the group should stay confidential. Be tactful if you see other members of the group outside (remember they may not be ‘out’ to those they are with).
- Try not to talk over each other, especially when people are presenting or during the occasional group discussion.
- Try not to dominate discussions. Other people may have an opinion.
- Treat all members of the group with respect, even if you disagree with them. If you must, challenge the issue not the person.
- Aggressive behaviour towards anyone in or outside of the LGBT Foundation is not acceptable and you will be asked to leave the group.
- Do not access the group if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol - you will be asked to leave the group and come back when not under the influence.
- Mobile phones should be set to be silent; please step outside the room to use them.
- Please arrive no later than 8:30pm. You may not be able to gain entry otherwise as the reception desk is not always staffed after that time.
- If you have a problem within the group, please do not hesitate to bring it to a volunteer’s attention and they will try their best to resolve it.
- The meeting space is everyone’s responsibility; please help to keep the area clean and tidy
Icebreakers is committed to providing an environment where gay and bisexual men can meet each other free of discrimination on any grounds. The volunteers will challenge any discrimination found within the group and, if needs be, will take action to sanction those who practise discrimination.
Icebreakers at Manchester Pride 2011