Monday, December 12, 2016
Connect Counselling expects a 4% increase in overall calls to the service this year reaching more than 8,000 calls.
The increase comes from a greater number of calls from existing service users as Connect has consolidated its niche position as a provider of professional out of hours phone counselling to abuse survivors.
Connect is open 20 hours a week (6-10pm, Wednesday to Sunday) and the projected number of overall calls for 2016 is 8,078, up from 7,798 in 2015.
Of these calls 4,264 are forecast to be answered, 3,074 to be received out of hours and 739 will be lost. Those who call out of hours are directed on the answering service to call again within hours.
The annual figures highlight an ongoing year on year increase in demand for the Connect service.
Connect Manager Theresa Merrigan said the high volume of calls received out of hours is a challenge faced by the service, but that Connect is manging to meet a specific demand of some people.
“Connect is a necessary and niche service that meets the needs of people who choose anonymous telephone based counselling as a first step towards and face-to-face therapy, or as a preferred longer term approach,” she said.
Connect provides out of hours telephone based professional counselling and support for abuse survivors – and was established in 2006 at the request of survivor groups. It is funded by the HSE and works together with the HSE’s National Counselling Service which is a daytime face to face counselling service.
The gender of callers in 2016 is on target to be two thirds female and one third male, which is similar to years to date. Ms Merrigan said calls from men and women does not reflect gender balance and she called on a greater number of men to avail of the service, particularly in rural areas.
In 2016 there has also been an increase in younger calls and reduction in older callers.
The most common overall setting for abuse is in the family (48%), followed by the community (34%) and 18% institutional. This is set to represent a slight shift from previous years with 4% more in the community compared to 2015.
Ms. Merrigan said an important message is for people to understand is that the majority of abuse occurs within the family.
“There is an over-emphasised public perception of institutional abuse, compared to in family and community settings, where our service records in excess of 80% of cases. Connect is available for people who have experienced abuse in any setting, not just in institutions,” she said.
Connect is available at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK. Opening times are 6-10pm Wednesday to Sunday with additional hours at times of high service demand.
*NOTE: The 2016 statistics included are projected figures for the year based on 10.5 months to mid-November. This information is released at this time to help publicise the service in advance of Christmas which is a particularly sensitive period in terms of public need for the service. Connect will provide additional opening times during the Christmas period.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.