While the Home Office crisis grant funding runs out on the 31 October, Respect has secured additional funding to continue operating extended opening hours on the Men’s Advice Line and Respect Phoneline for 1-30 November, thanks to the Scottish Government.
Respect’s helplines will remain available Monday–Friday: 9am–8pm for support by phone, and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10–11am and 3–4pm for support by webchat. However, starting Saturday 31 October, weekend email support services will no longer be available.
While we have secured additional funding for November, unless we are able to secure funding for 1 December 2020 – 31 March 2021, Respect’s helplines will be forced to resume pre-pandemic opening hours, despite our projected increases for demand.
When lockdown was first introduced, Respect saw a huge increase in demand for both the Men’s Advice Line and Respect Phoneline. Thanks to the Home Office’s Covid-19 crisis funds we received at the time, we were able to act quickly and increase our hours to better meet demand:
• The Respect Phoneline almost doubled the response to perpetrators and support for frontline workers from 40 to 75 hours weekly.
• The Men’s Advice Line increased the service hours to support male victims from 46 to 75 hours weekly.
In addition to the increasing volume of calls, emails and webchats, Advisors are observing a significant change in the nature of the help needed. Advisors report that complex enquiries from service users with severe mental health concerns have become the norm. While the number of service users expressing suicidal ideation has doubled (comparison between September 2019 and September 2020).
We know reaching out to either helpline can be a hard step for people to make. Reducing opportunities to make contact when it’s safe and convenient for service users or long call wait times can mean the call never happens. Without extended service hours, people seeking help may lose the safe moment to make a private call or become anxious and change their mind about making contact.
We are working hard to secure additional funding for December – March, to enable us to continue offering extended opening hours and support families with domestic abuse issues.