Support line: 0800 048 7035 (Open 9:00am-5:00pm weekdays)

Celebrating a year of the Guideposts Information & Support line

The Guideposts Information & Support phone line opened a year ago, in March 2020.  It was coincidental, if fortunate, that it was just at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our team have been at the end of the phone to support people through this exceptional year, and have developed the service to fit the needs of the time.

The service was originally conceived as a Social Prescribing service, helping people to feel in better control of their physical and mental health by linking them to local support in the community and useful sources of information. This “social prescription” was tailored to the person’s needs and interests, and could include social or activity groups, peer support, advice providers or even grants the person could claim.

Opening the phone line in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Just a few days after launching the service the UK announced a national lockdown and everything changed. Services up and down the country started to deliver support remotely, and a whole new array of activities became available virtually, from choirs to book clubs and discussion groups. Suddenly, what was available to people in the “local area” was completely different.

The questions we received on the helpline were almost exclusively focussed on Covid: how to keep safe; how to follow the rules; and how to manage your practical needs when told to stay at home. We worked fast to find the best solutions we could to all these questions, keeping up to date with the official information and creating our own toolkit of useful techniques and advice. This included practical advice and local information, for example about which shops were offering remote shopping in each area, together with techniques to calm anxieties and help to ease the fear of this new, unknown danger.

As time has gone on, there have been peaks of levels of anxiety in line with changes to the Covid-19 situation: what to do as lockdowns ease, and how to cope with the worry when cases rise again. But as people have become used to the situation we have seen fewer calls from people in acute distress, and more calls from people needing support with long-term issues.

Where are we now?

Most of the people we support are dealing with issues including complex emotional needs that affect their mental and physical health on a day-to-day basis. Many of them would benefit from the right kind of support, but either don’t know what services they can turn to, or are facing barriers in taking up support. Often, the person can find the solution to a problem with the resources they already have, given guidance and encouragement from our team.

Over the last few months, we have helped people with multiple problems including OCD, bereavement, anxiety over caring responsibilities, and issues around finance and housing which were having an impact on their mental health.

Support takes place over a series of between 4 and 12 sessions, where the team first listens, gets to know the person and their situation and builds trust, before using a range of approaches to help them set goals, find solutions and build their resilience. Overall what we now offer is much closer to the Health & Wellbeing Coaching part of social prescribing – we still always look for local sources of support that the person calling could benefit from.

Case Study: Judy

Judy called Guideposts Information & Support when she was feeling in crisis.  She had ongoing mental health issues, but had stopped the therapy she had been taking as she didn’t get on with the therapist. Her condition had worsened and she had been calling different phone-lines and receiving one-off crisis support until she came to us.

At first, Wendy gave Judy time to tell her about her situation, allowing her to reflect on the past therapies and counselling she had taken.  Judy and Wendy spoke regularly for several calls, building a relationship of trust and helping Judy to find a calmer place for herself.

After a little time, Judy agreed to look at other options and try again to find the right sort of counselling for her. Wendy researched the options, and found a few that she thought might fit Judy’s situation.

They talked through these options, and Judy agreed that she would try a specialist trauma counsellor and got in touch with one of the suggested practitioners.  She is now taking counselling again, and feels she is back on the right track.

If you know someone who might benefit from speaking to Guideposts Information & Support please let them know how to contact us: by phone, email, or even webchat.

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