Lifeline bracing for hectic time

LIFELINE’S telephone counselling service in Ipswich is officially the second-busiest centre of its kind in the country.

Figures released yesterday show that the two-phone centre answered 10,943 calls from January to November this year.

This is way above the Lifeline national average of 3512 callers per phone.

Co-ordinator Alison Maynard said the call numbers for Ipswich were an increase of 3000 on last year.

“We tend to take 1000 calls a month,” she said.

“I was thrilled with the figures because we do a lot of work.

“The demand in the community is so high.”

Ipswich's phone counselling service is run by a couple of paid staff and about 70 volunteers.

“The majority of volunteers do it because they want to give back to the community,” Ms Maynard said.

“Some are at university doing psychology.

“So many of them really get satisfied when they have a good outcome with a caller.”

Emotional and financial worries to do with Christmas are already surfacing at Lifeline.

The 24/7 operation can answer calls from anywhere in Australia.

“Margo”, a volunteer, said Christmas was an awful time for a lot of people.

“There are all these expectations, and they're caught up in the middle of it,” she said.

“It may be a grandmother who can't afford to buy gifts for her grandchildren.

“Calls are not necessarily five minutes – suicide calls can be for hours.

“Most of my calls are about 40 minutes.

“Callers are so upset and distressed, you've got to calm them down.”

Ms Maynard said Christmas could be a lonely time for some people.

“All the links they have to the community are shut,” she said.

Lifeline counsellors are also called on to help out with flood and disaster victims.

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