Since it was established in 2015, The Listening Place’s (TLP) exceptional growth has enabled it to support over 2,800 people who felt life was not worth living.
The charity was set up with the objective of reducing the number of people taking their own lives by giving them ongoing, confidential, face-to-face support. It has received over 4,500 referrals in its short history. Clinical qualitative evaluation of the support given to 1000 visitors showed a highly significant reduction in suicidality and distress after three and six months’ support.
In 2015 TLP was open two days a week. It currently operates seven days a week, 9am-9pm. It has recruited and trained 600 volunteers of all ages, from all walks of life. The common denominator is their commitment to supporting their visitors. They support 900 visitors from London and the Home Counties from two sites in London. A third London site is scheduled to open in early 2020 and more premises are planned.
The volunteers are themselves supported by senior supervising volunteers on each shift, a separate small network of experienced listening volunteers on whom they can call at any time, and a separate network of senior healthcare professionals who hold regular supervision sessions at TLP and to whom listeners and their supervisors can look for support and advice with, for example, visitors who are at particular risk.
Two thirds of TLP’s visitors are referred by the NHS, some by other charities, police, social services, universities and some visitors self-refer.
Each person who is referred has an initial assessment. If it’s agreed that TLP can offer the right kind of support, the visitor will be offered six sessions when they can talk openly, without being judged and in complete confidence. Feedback from visitors shows consistently that it is the confidentiality and non-judgemental nature of their sessions that are of the greatest value. After the first six sessions a review of progress can result in visitors being offered further sessions.
In October 2019 The Listening Place won the Third Sector Volunteer Team of the Year Award and was short listed for the Small Charity of The Year. It won the Foundation for Social Impact, Small Charity Big Impact Award and was highly commended for the Outstanding Volunteer Contribution Award from London’s Westminster Council.
The BBC Radio 4 programme “All In The Mind” is well known for its reporting of mental health issues. It featured The Listening Place in one of its weekly broadcasts, with powerful first-hand testimony from one of its visitors who told the programme: “Structural therapies are trying to solve a problem. The best thing about TLP is that if you have got to a level where you are at risk, you just want someone to listen”.
The Office of National Statistics latest report on suicide showed it to be a continuing, challenging issue for the country. TLP’s hope is that it can continue to play a significant, and hopefully growing, part in managing this ever-increasing problem.
Read more at www.listeningplace.org.uk.