Counselling service for adults abused in childhood misses thousands of out-of-hours calls

Counselling service for adults abused in childhood misses thousands of out-of-hours calls

A third of calls to a telephone-based counselling service for adults who were abused in childhood have been received outside of service hours this year.

Connect, a free and confidential support service, has revealed that overall calls will reach almost 8,000 in 2019.

Connect received 7,826 calls in the year between December 1, 2018 and 2019.

Of these calls 5,326 were answered - a 4% increase on 5,123 calls answered in 2018 - while 2,500 calls came out of hours.

74% of callers were female and 26% male. Almost half of callers were aged between 31-50 years (48%) with 29% over 50.

It was established in 2006 following demands from groups representing survivors of institutional abuse that an independent and professional out-of-hours, telephone-based service be established. The service is HSE funded.

Connect is open 20 hours a week (6-10pm, Wednesday to Sunday). Those who call out of hours are directed on the answering service to call again within opening hours.

The annual figures highlight an ongoing demand for the Connect service and need for longer opening hours.

Service Director Marie Percival said the high volume of calls received out of hours is a challenge, but Connect is successfully meeting a specific demand of abuse survivors.

Ms Percival said: “Connect is a necessary and niche service that meets the needs of people who choose anonymous telephone-based counselling as a first step towards face-to-face therapy, or as a preferred longer term approach.

However, we do have a challenge with demand for additional opening hours and we would encourage more male callers to the service.

In anticipation of increased demand over the Christmas period, Connect is extending its hours to open every evening from Wednesday, December 18 until Sunday, January 5.

Ms Percival said that Christmas can be a particularly sensitive time when difficulties can resurface.

People can call Connect for free at 1800 477 477. From Northern Ireland and the UK people can call 00 800 477 477 77.

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