Anx­i­ety Free on­line ther­apy to be of­fered across UK

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - Amelia Hill

An on­line ther­apy ser­vice is to of­fer free 20-minute ses­sions aimed at vul­ner­a­ble older peo­ple and oth­ers who are self-iso­lat­ing or strug­gling, af­ter ther­a­pists across the UK vol­un­teered their help.

The Help Hub was in­tended to serve a small area in west Ox­ford­shire but will ex­pand na­tion­ally when it launches this week fol­low­ing an in­flux of sup­port. “Thanks to the kind­ness of ther­a­pists right across the coun­try will­ing to work for free, the idea snow­balled in the space of less than a fort­night to the ex­tent that we can now cover the whole of the UK,” said Ruth Chaloner, the founder of the ser­vice, who is ask­ing ther­a­pists to email her at [email protected]­ if they want to get in­volved. Chaloner is set­ting up a sec­ond scheme to help the hard­est-to-reach mem­bers of her lo­cal com­mu­nity. She hopes this is another idea that could be ex­tended na­tion­ally.

“We know there are some very vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple out there who are al­ready iso­lated, strug­gling and hard to reach,” she said. “We’ve set up a Face­book page – TheHelpHub­WestOx­ford – where vol­un­teers map out their area and co­or­di­nate teams to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for every street. Those teams will make sure that every sin­gle house­re­ceives a leaflet from us, of­fer­ing our help. Then we go back a cou­ple of days later and knock on the door of any­one who hasn’t con­tacted us.”

There has been a surge of anx­i­ety since the coron­avirus cri­sis. The Na­tional Phar­macy As­so­ci­a­tion and the Com­pany Chemists As­so­ci­a­tion have asked cus­tomers not to stock­pile med­i­ca­tions amid fears that the most vul­ner­a­ble will be left without.

Phar­ma­cies have said so many peo­ple are self-iso­lat­ing that the un­funded home-de­liv­ery ser­vices pro­vided by chemists will be over­whelmed.

Reena Barai, a phar­ma­cist in Lon­don, said: “We have seen a tsunami ef­fect, with anx­i­ety lev­els of our cus­tomers through the roof. It’s only go­ing to get worse: week two of self-iso­la­tion [is] ... when the peak of anx­i­ety is re­ally go­ing to hit.”

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