Sometimes, it’s just good to chat isn’t it?
A funny story between friends, a caring phone call to a loved one, or perhaps a good old-fashioned rant after a busy day of work. But what if you have nobody to talk to? Or perhaps thinks that nobody cares?
Not being able to talk to someone, or not taking advantage of the opportunity when it arises can affect you mentally and emotionally. It’s why psychologist Lee Chambers took it upon himself to make sure those working hardest right now have the chance to chat, by offering free online counselling sessions to all NHS staff.
“The initiative originally started with a number of therapists that I know," he said. "The NHS staff are working very long hours and in very challenging and sometimes traumatic conditions. If we could bolster their wellbeing and keep them in a place where they could keep their level of care for their patients high, we could give a few hours a week and get them to a point where they are recovering enough to be able to go to work the next day and deliver another shift of excellent care to all of the people that they treat.
“So we brought a group of people together called the ‘Covid-19 counsellors’. We were getting more and more therapists joining and offering their services, showing that they were qualified, had the insurance and putting down experience of what they could do, while we got information from the NHS about what members of staff were struggling and what they were struggling with so we could match.
“Now that’s actually gone a step forward, and we’ve merged into a nationwide service called ‘Frontline-19’, and that’s amazing, because that means we’re now not just focused on the local area but we’re actually covering the whole country and that’s linked us into another 400 to 450 therapists and counsellors.
"Now we actually have a really big network of people helping and there are other groups that have sprung up, offering similar things so people have taken that initiative and really run with it, which is great because that’s now giving Frontline-19 the scope to possibly look at helping care workers, look at helping pharmacists and other people who are really facing challenges in the front line.
“It’s just an amazing way to show our appreciation for people, who, during this traumatic time, are doing an amazing job and simply, there is no better way to say thank you, than to just give them someone to speak to at the end of a really difficult shift.”
What makes the offer even more impressive is that it isn’t just one conversation. All NHS staff will be able to work through their challenges and feelings, however big or small.
“We get a framework of what their challenges are and we’re able to assign a number of sessions, around an hour at a time, and for some staff it’ll just be the ability to offload the challenges of their working period, and sometimes that is what they need. They need an output from someone who understands, and can actively listen and ask the right questions, and help them feel rejuvenated for the next day.
“For some people, they’re going through a more traumatic experience and need more trauma informed, deeper counselling and that can be offered. The difference you can make in a few sessions, is not always as significant as a particular block, but we can boost their wellbeing and give them something in that hour that will give them more to give to the patients the following day.”
As much as the initiative is incredibly giving, Lee is also quick to acknowledge how amazing the team at Frontline-19 have been, in getting this project up and running.
“We had to do this in a space of a few days. We had people spending hours of their time, making sure everyone was qualified and able to deliver what they wanted to deliver and it was a mad process. But, when times call for it, people step up and make it happen. We’ve managed to pick this up and get a website going and get it systemised incredibly quicker, which is testament to lots of talented people, also putting in their skills and time.
“It’s just great to know that in our nation of millions of people, there’s lots of us who are actually willing to contribute to make the country a better place. In some ways, it takes a crisis to bring all those people out to meet each other. The paradoxical power of a crisis, actually brings out the best in us in many ways and I’m really grateful to meet those people and really make a difference.”
If you’re an NHS worker and would like to take advantage of this opportunity, then just head to www.frontline19.com to sign up and you’ll be matched with a member of the team as soon as possible.