STARS Dorset sees a huge increase of calls to its support line

Video meeting

Sexual Trauma and Recovery Services (STARS Dorset) sees huge increase of calls to its Support Line during lockdown.

Back in March, STARS Dorset had to change the way it worked quickly, and this meant suspending all face to face counselling and support work and working remotely while continuing to support clients fully but doing so via the phone and online video platforms.

Some clients were in the middle of therapy, and some were on a waiting list awaiting allocation of a counsellor. Others had just been referred and had not been assessed, while some had cases with the police, some were waiting to hear if the CPS would take any further action, some had court cases pending.

Straight away the charity made changes, and they increased the hours their Telephone Support Line was available, rising from 10 hours to 26 hours a week.

They also increased their Live Chat service, a free online service available through their website, from 10 hours a week to be available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

Since these changes in March, the charity has seen an increase of 155% of calls to its Support Line compared to the same three month period last year and more people than ever using Live Chat.

The charity is expecting a surge in referrals to its Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service and Counselling Service as the lockdown is lifted. STARS are currently ensuring they will be able to manage and cope with the increased demand for their services. They are remotely training a new cohort of Support Line Listeners and a new group of Counsellors, and they have recently trained an online assessment team.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 the team at STARS Dorset has had to be so flexible, we have extended the hours of our Listening Support Line Service and our Live Chat capabilities and ensured our Counsellor and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors have been able to continue to support our clients. We are anticipating a surge in referrals over the forthcoming months, last year we supported over 1800 people in Dorset and we want to ensure we are able to maintain this level of support and more once lockdown is fully lifted.

Helen Stevens, Service Manager at STARS Dorset

STARS Dorset offers a counselling service, an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service, a Listening Support Line and a dedicated Children and Young People service. All its services are free. The charity is currently running a Crowdfunding page to cover all the additional costs it has incurred during the pandemic and is expecting to incur going forward. If you would like to pledge support for the charity and all the work they do please visit the STARS Dorset Aviva Community Fund page.

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