Telephone counselling service reports busiest year ever in 2010 25% increase in calls to Connect in 2010

Average annual increase of 30% in calls to Connect in first four full years of service

Telephone based counselling and support service Connect reported its busiest year ever in 2010 receiving more than 10,000 calls, a 25% increase over 2009.

The finding is contained in Connect’s first ever service report (Connect Service Report 2006-2010) which was launched today covering the first five years of the service from 2006 to 2010.

Calls to Connect grew by an average of 30% year on year during its first four full years of service (2007-2010), with a total of 31,835 calls made to Connect since it began in mid 2006.

Connect Chief Executive Officer Anne Richardson said that, as a free telephone based professional counselling service, Connect is a unique service and the continuing growth in demand shows that it meets a particular demand for many people.

“It is clear from our report that telephone based counselling facilitates counselling for people who otherwise may not embark on the process. In meeting this demand Connect also reduces its users need to access other parts of the health service. ”

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 fully funded by the HSE.

Other findings in report include:

  • There are more female than male callers although men are almost as likely as women to experience abuse. However, the number of male callers has been increasing each year. In 2006 84% of callers were female and 16% male compared to 60% female and 40% male in 2010.
  • Urban areas such as Dublin Cork and Galway had a much higher volume of calls than rural areas, accounting for 54% of calls in 2010.
  • Connect provides a flexible service and extends its opening hours at times of high demand (such as the launch of the Murphy and Ryan reports, or TV programmes relating to abuse). Since 2006 it has extended its hours of service on 23 separate occasions.

Ms. Richardson said that Connect has in its communications been encouraging more men to avail of the service and is working with GPs to encourage more people in rural areas to use the service.

Connect ready to extend opening hours

The service currently operates from 6-10pm Wednesday to Sunday and Ms. Richardson said the Service Report shows that Connect is in a strong position to now expand the opening hours towards a full-time basis.

“The number of calls received outside of service hours is growing each year and there were 10,000 out of hours calls since 2007. An independent service evaluation in 2009 recommended the extension of the service to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2010 Connect became the first Irish service to receive the UK based Helplines Association Quality Standard mark.

“When the service was established in 2006 it was intended to move from a part-time service to a full-time one. I believe we are now in a position to do this and funding is the key issue that will have to be addressed,” she said.

Connect can be called from the Republic of Ireland on 1800 477 477 and from the UK on 0800 477 477 77. The full Connect Service Report 2006-2010 is available for download at www.connectcounselling.ie

Further Information
Ronan Cavanagh, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 or (086) 317 9731.
www.connectcounselling.ie