12% increase in calls to Telephone Counselling Service

Telephone counselling service Connect expects a 12% increase in calls received during opening hours in 2013, receiving approximately 8,300 calls compared to 7,376 last year.

Connect counsellors also expect to answer a greater % of calls during opening hours this year with 80% answered compared to 75% in 2012.

The overall number of calls received (calls inside and outside of opening hours) in 2013 is in line to be just over 11,000, which is similar to 2011 and 2012.

The 2013 figures are based upon the number of calls which Connect has received so far this year continuing at a similar level to the end of December and reflects the continuing year on year growth in demand for the service.

Connect is an out of hours telephone based counselling service for abuse survivors and opens from 6-10pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Connect Manager Theresa Merrigan said the 2013 figures show continued growth in demand for the service and an improvement in the rate of calls answered. However, she expressed concern about the number of calls that the service does not have the capacity to answer.

“The 2013 figures show that the service has challenges with capacity. 20% of overall calls are received when the service is closed and 20% of calls received during opening hours are not answered due to staff capacity.

Ms. Merrigan said that an increasing number of callers to Connect talk about isolation.

“Caller presentations are becoming more complex as people fall out of the net around other services available. Many callers present with psychiatric histories and are not availing of other professional or community support. Isolation is one of the key issues that callers talk about,” she said.

The most common setting for abuse to have happened to callers (during the period from October 2012 – September 2013) was in the family at 40%, followed by the community at 26%. Institutional abuse accounted for 16% of calls, though this figure rose at times of public focus on institutional abuse, accounting for 22% of calls at the period of the Magdalene Report in early 2013.

Callers were 64% female, 35.5% male and .5% transgender. This represents a welcome increase in the number of men contacting Connect as the gender breakdown was up to 80% female in previous years.

During 2013 Connect has received calls from all counties in the Republic as well as from and Northern Ireland and Britain.

“Calls from the UK accounted for 3% of calls during the October 2012 – September 2013 period, up from 1.5% in 2011. We would like this figure to be higher as many abuse survivors now live in the UK.

“In the Republic a high proportion of callers are from Dublin, Cork, Galway and the commuter counties around Dublin. We would encourage more callers from rural areas, particularly from the Western seaboard counties,” Ms. Merrigan said.

In terms of type of abuse 51% of callers reported sexual abuse. Of callers who reported abuse within families 27% said that it was perpetrated by the brother, 25% father, 10% uncle and 7% grandfather. 17% of institutional survivors, who contacted the service, reported an experience of sexual abuse.

Connect was established in 2006 following demands from groups representing survivors of institutional abuse that an independent and professional out of hours telephone based counselling and support service be established.

The service is available Wednesday to Sunday from 6-10pm at 1800 477 477 and from the UK at 0800 477 477 77.

Further Information
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.