Record high calls to Lifeline prompts first public appeal
IN MARCH alone, the coronavirus pandemic triggered a 25 per cent spike in calls to Lifeline, making it the highest number of calls the crisis support line has recorded in its 57-year history.
That equates to the volunteer-led charity receiving one call every 30 seconds.
And with the virus having forced the closure of its op-shops across the country, Lifeline is making a public appeal for donations for the first time since its 1963 launch.
Lifeline North Coast supervisor Lyn Anderson said its op-shops in Coffs Harbour, Nambucca and Grafton were the main source of income for the local charity.
With restrictions now easing, Ms Anderson has asked the public to support the newly reopened op-shops or make a donation on the Lifeline website.
"Here in Coffs Harbour our crisis supporters take calls from all around Australia, so if we were to close down it would create a real struggle for the other call centres," Ms Anderson said.
"We receive government funding but it's not a lot. This is the first time we've had to ask the public for financial assistance."
Ms Anderson said many volunteers had picked up extra shifts to continue to support Australians grappling with Covid-19 on the back of summer's bushfire devastation.
"It's been fantastic to see all our volunteers across Australia really rally together and take on more shifts," she said.
"Here in Coffs the office staff have worked from home while the crisis supporters have come in to use the phones with sprays and wipes and all the works.
"It's important that everyone knows that just because the call demand rate has increased, please don't hesitate to call.
"A lot of people are really quite isolated, people are feeling anxious and jobs are gone, so please ring us if you need to as our volunteers are doing extra shifts."
For anyone interested in being a volunteer crisis supporter, Lifeline North Coast will hold training in August.
"As long as someone cares about people and is able to listen, no experience is necessary," Ms Anderson said.
Call Lifeline North Coast on 6651 4093 for information.
If you're in need of support, call the Lifeline support line on 13 11 14.