26 August 2021

Record demand for Lifeline as thousands struggle during lockdown

| Dominic Giannini
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Lifeline Canberra crisis call centre worker

The Lifeline Canberra crisis call team has experienced record demand during the current COVID-19 lockdown. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Lifeline Canberra team – who answer calls from all across Australia – provided crisis support to a record 3561 callers on Monday, 23 August, 2021.

The new record for calls in a day was set for the second time this month, with the previous record of 3345 calls reached only three weeks prior.

Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson tells Region Media that demand is expected to continue to increase as the majority of Australia remains in COVID-19 lockdown, and restrictions extend across the country.

“[We are seeing] the highest volume of calls in Lifeline’s history,” she says. “People are looking for crisis support, seeking help, advice and referrals onto other services.

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“We are finding the vast majority of the increase in the call rate is people reaching out for the first time during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are anticipating this number will continue to rise as long as the lockdowns across the country are in place.”

The Lifeline Canberra centre has just welcomed 32 new crisis supporters who are now beginning on the phones during this stretch of unprecedented demand.

More than 8000 hours were logged by volunteers in July, and more than 260 hours of crisis support on the phoneline were recorded during the first week of Canberra’s lockdown.

Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson

Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson says demand for the service is expected to increase as long as COVID-19 lockdowns remain in place. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Carrie encourages Canberrans at home who might want to volunteer to sign up for a role within Lifeline.

“There are a number of roles across the organisation here in Canberra where people can assist, either out at the Book Fair warehouse, or on the crisis support line,” she says.

“In terms of the volunteers, we have systems and processes in place that allow them to operate on the phone lines in a safe manner with social distancing and hygiene practices in place.

“More importantly, the clinical supervision and the clinical processes around their wellbeing have also been stepped up to ensure they are cared for during this particularly stressful time.”

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Lifeline Canberra also continues to navigate the lockdown’s impact on its Book Fair warehouse, Booklover’s Lane and Book Fair volunteers after the shop at Fyshwick Markets was forced to temporarily close.

Thirty-one pallets of books were packed for Book Fairs last month, but currently remain in the warehouse while events and retail shops are subject to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown measures.

For more information about volunteering or helping out Lifeline Canberra, visit here.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line on 13 11 14.

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