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Record number of calls to LifeLine counsellors during lockdown

Counsellors are fielding calls from the official coronavirus helpline and the Presidential Hotline when those lines cannot provide the necessary care or information

LifeLine Ekurhuleni, which is located in Benoni, but services the whole region, has received a “tidal wave” of calls to its counselling line since the start of lockdown.

This crisis line has operated continuously for 50 years and provides counselling for distressed callers with issues relating to relationships, abuse, financial distress, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, depression, bereavement, anxiety and/or other emotional concerns.

Counselling coordinator Junerose Mahetlane explained that the NGO had to make hurried arrangements to be able to divert the crisis line to volunteer counsellors’ homes to keep the 24/7 lines open throughout the crisis.

“Counsellors has to deal with everything from potential suicides to people separated from their children, as well as many inquiries about travel and financial support,” she said.

“The centre and volunteers also had to arrange to provide up-to-date information on the rules and facilities offered by government agencies. Our volunteers are quick learners – they had to be! We had many callers referred to our counsellors from the official coronavirus helpline (0800 299 999) as well as the Presidential hotline when those lines could not provide the necessary care or information.

“LifeLine Ekurhuleni regards these referrals as compliments to our capabilities and diligence, and we are deeply grateful to be able to serve and continue to serve the community.”


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But it was not just the crisis line that allowed LifeLine Ekurhuleni to continue to provide services to the Ekurhuleni community right throughout the lockdown.

Staff were sent home, but remained on standby for several projects, including the Duduza one-stop victim support centre, the court intermediaries who work with children testifying in courts and the iKhaya Lethemba abused women shelter.

Mahetlane explained that with the initial rigid lockdown Level 5, offices were closed and those needing emotional support were directed to the crisis lines.

“Another ringing endorsement of the quality and dedication of LifeLine counsellors happened when a victim of the tragic scourge of rape contacted a local radio station to seek advice and help,” she said.

“Many callers to the station told the rape victim that she should immediately make contact with the LifeLine branch in Tsakane because the counsellors there had assisted others to deal with the trauma and eventually move on to productive lives.”

LifeLine’s Crisis Line (011 422 4242) is manned by volunteers and when they cannot answer incoming calls the line is diverted to another LifeLine facility.

Local counsellors also take part in manning the national counselling line (0861 322 322), which is diverted to them a couple of days a week, and work closely with the Stop Gender Violence Helpline (0800 150 150), another LifeLine service.

LifeLine Ekurhuleni is situated at 3 Russel Street, Benoni. Contact them on 011 422 4242 or Lifelineoffice@gmail.com


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