26 May 2020
Over the last two months Samaritans Liverpool and Merseyside Branch has had to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis. Some of our services have been curtailed but others have expanded. We have had to withdraw our face to face service at the branch in Clarence Street but we have increased to the amount of time which we have spent answering phone calls and replying to emails.
Due to the critical service we provide to support vulnerable people we have been classified as a key provider by the Government so our volunteers have been able to travel from home to work in the branch. We have had to modify the way we work so that volunteers can socially distance and to enable each work station to be properly sanitized at the end of each shift. This has meant that we have had to restrict each shift to two volunteers in the branch and one giving support from home. Some of our volunteers have had to self isolate but in spite of reduced numbers we have covered over 95% of our regular shifts from 10am until 3am the following day and have increased to a full 24hr service on Sunday/Monday. In March Liverpool branch answered almost 350 phone calls and replied to more than 400 emails.
With the withdrawal of face to face therapies many GPs and mental health practitioners are actively signposting patients to our helplines and Samaritans has set up a dedicated service for the NHS and other keyworkers. Liverpool branch is in the process of setting up a dedicated Freephone in the ED department at Aintree University Hospital for the use of staff, patients and relatives. We have also been working with the Leads for Public Health at Liverpool City Council and we are offering a ‘Call Back” service to staff at local care homes.
Unfortunately, our work with Liverpool Prison has had to be reduced as we are not allowed to visit the prison during lockdown. As a result the amount of support we can give to the prisoner ‘Listeners’ we have trained is less than normal though our branch volunteer in charge of the prison team has a dedicated phone number to enable us to give some support. Hopefully, we will shortly be able to resume some face to face contact which will enable us to train more listener prisoners and to support them.
Normally we run 5 or 6 training courses for new volunteers for our branch each year. The training is detailed and consists of 5 on line modules with 5 or 6 three hour face to face training sessions in branch. The in branch sessions include group discussions, taking a number of practice calls and other skills practices. After that the new volunteer has a mentor for their first shifts to make sure they are supported in their role. Each training group consists of up to 16 new volunteers with 3 or 4 trainers present. We have not been able to train any new volunteers since lockdown started but we are working on how we might be able to start again as we need more volunteers to enable us to provide our service.
Needless to say our work with National Rail, Merseyrail, the Emergency Services (apart from giving them support) has all had to stop and whilst this has meant some volunteers have had more time to devote to answering our callers on the phone we will be stretched when things return to normal and some of our younger volunteers return to work. We have also had to stop many of our fundraising activities but the bills continue to come in!
We are here to support all members of the legal profession on Merseyside, your staff and your clients whatever you are going through in these very unusual circumstances.
If you would like to support Liverpool and Merseyside Samaritans donations can be made via our Virgin Money account http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/samaritans17
Samaritans is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our free phone number is 116 123 and our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Director and Trustee
|25 Clarence Street, Liverpool L3 5TN
Samaritans of Liverpool and Merseyside is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered in England and Wales (117022).