Our Outstanding Partners
What we do
Our mission is to ease the detrimental mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and, through qualified volunteer Psychotherapists, offer free online emotional support to all UK adults. Our longer-term strategy will be to provide the same free service to adults who are either unable to access or cannot afford therapy.
Who we help
The HelpHub was set up by psychotherapist Ruth Chaloner in April this year. Originally Ruth’s intention was to support people who were on a waiting list for NHS mental health support or couldn’t afford private therapy, but when the Covid-19 crisis started she rapidly adapted the service to provide free emotional support for people suffering during the pandemic.
Available to anyone in the UK, the HelpHub is helping those suffering from anxiety, loneliness and isolation. Some are fearful, worried about their health or their loved ones. For those who have been bereaved, perhaps without being able to say goodbye in person, it may be hard to start the grieving process, especially far from family and with funerals being delayed. The HelpHub enables people to speak to someone who knows how to listen to their fears. Through the website, people book a twenty-minute appointment to speak to one of over 800 therapists, all of whom are volunteering their time and expertise to ensure the HelpHub can provide a free service.
As a therapist herself and from her experience of the effects of the pandemic, Ruth felt it was important to engage qualified therapists to respond to people’s need for emotional support. Therapists are trained to listen, to reflect back; they know how to help people through trauma, they can also encourage them to open up about feelings and reach out to people around them. Although many of us are not good at saying how we feel, it is important to externalise these feelings or they remain buried and can cause psychological damage in the long term.
Impact so far
The HelpHub has a capacity to provide 2,500 free, online emotional support sessions each week, across the UK. The service can be used as many times as people wish, but they can also choose to be signposted to private provision.
The feedback from our weekly surveys is overwhelmingly positive, with people finding it easy to make an appointment and reporting immediate benefits from their first sessions. Here are just a few examples:
‘Feeling low and isolated. [The therapist] was so understanding and really listened and reassured me. I have already recommended to friends and I would ring again as my situation is ongoing and I am very low.’
‘My husband died in November 2017, so have had to adjust to living alone. The lockdown around coronavirus has contributed to me feeling lost and lonely. The counsellor/therapist was very personable, she listened to me intently and I found her helpful in so many respects, particularly as I felt more positive about my situation.’
‘Was feeling overwhelmed with lots of other people relying on me for support and nowhere to go for myself to offload. It is a short time with so much to say but I felt heard, supported and encouraged. It is a very useful and kind service to provide.’
What happens next
Some of us have been affected very deeply by the crisis – including through bereavement. Although restrictions are being lifted, there is still a great deal of uncertainty and the economic context is likely to be difficult for months ahead, with businesses closing and higher rates of unemployment. After the NHS, therapists will become the new front line workers with a crucial role to play in helping those who have been traumatized by what they are going through now and the longer term effects.
As the only free service available across the UK, we are determined to ensure that the HelpHub can continue to help as many people as possible. We are already looking ahead to how we could meet the demand, by increasing the number of therapists on our platform and by engaging trainees who are close to qualifying as therapists – particularly for the future.
Faced with an urgent need, all those involved in setting up and running the HelpHub to date have donated their time and expertise. This includes a gift in kind from Vello the online platform we are using to connect those who need help with our volunteer therapists. The innovation team at Blenheim Palace are also offering their time at no cost and supporting our costs with Vello.
We have secured in-kind and financial support from Blenheim Palace, Owen Mumford and Counselling Directory, which enable us to operate for the next six months. After that our business plan anticipates further modest administrative costs and salaries for which we will need to raise funds.
How you can help
All of us have been affected by the pandemic and the restrictions put in place to try to control the virus. We know that helping ourselves and others is one of the ways we can safeguard our own mental health and we hope you will consider:
Using the service if you feel it could help you
Raising awareness of the HelpHub service among family, friends, colleagues
Encouraging your employees to make use of the service
Contact Help Hub
To find out more complete the form below and Help Hub will be in touch with you shortly.