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Help is only ever a click or a phone call away

Help is only ever a click or a phone call away

Friday 27 March 2020

Help is only ever a click or a phone call away

Third sector organisations such as Samaritans are experiencing an increase in calls due to corona virus-related anxiety, while others are adapting their services so that more help is available online for those in need of support.

The Bailiwick went into lockdown on Wednesday for at least two weeks.

Volunteers in the third sector - from suicide helplines to food delivery services - continue to work tirelessly to make sure those in need have access to potentially lifesaving support services.

Graham Hall, Director of the Samaritans Guernsey Branch, said demand has increased following recent events but that the organisation's volunteers remain on top of the workload.

"I think it is accurate to say we have seen an increase in calls coming in for our service on every shift, but not, thank goodness, so far to an unmanageable extent.

"Certain times are busier than others; the nights and early mornings can be very busy but so far, as I say, we are managing to cope with demand.

"The virus and related lockdown is clearly at the forefront of people’s minds. This, and consequential anxiety, has been a recurring theme over the past month or so.

"Our volunteers are dedicated and well trained to cope with calls. When we pick up the phone, or see someone face to face, we never know what sort of call or visit it might be and we prepare for that. We also have a strong ethos of being there to support each other whenever a call has been particularly upsetting or when a volunteer may be struggling for whatever reason."

Some general advice for people worried about the corona virus during the outbreak is available here, with specific advice and links for Guernsey residents here.

Deputy Gavin St Pier has emphasised the need to look after your mental health during the crisis and said charities have a vital part to play in that.

"Mental health is a major concern and it should be a major concern for us. We all have to recognise that everybody is experiencing stress and anxiety, particularly those who are in self isolation or living alone or have pre-existing issues which are exacerbated by this. We absolutely recognise the challenge."

"A lot of organisations have re-orientated the way they provide their services. The Youth Commission has moved to a position where effectively they are supporting all of their normal groups electronically. The speed of response of a huge number of people to think ‘how can we do things differently and support people that we would normally be seeing daily?’ has been very impressive."

States of Guernsey Chief Executive Paul Whitfield said a lot of work around mental health had also targeted the older age groups.

"Although we’re working exceptionally hard with our own staff, we are reaching out and working with Guernsey Mind for example, who have uploaded most of their information and services online. We’re meeting with further teams such as the Association of Charities and the Citizens Advice Bureau who are passing on some quality information.

"We are particularly concentrating in these first days on providing a very comprehensive pack to the over 65s, which we’re going to provide across the doorsteps. That’s got some really sound advice on how they can communicate, how they can get information, how they can access cash if they need to, if they’ve got trouble accessing food, what can be done. I really hope that will go across doorsteps in the next 24-48 hours."

Deputy St Pier said going into lockdown was necessary to hopefully limit its duration.

"We’ve talked about the need to stay at home to minimise the speed of the transmission of the disease within the community and therefore the pressure on the health service and to minimise the loss of life. Equally, another reason to stay at home, ironically, is to ensure that we can keep this period as short as possible for the mental health and wellbeing of the whole community.

"It’s in everyone’s interests that we try and get through this period as quickly as we can, not just from a physical point of view but from a mental health point of view."

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