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Help in a crisis
Innovative partnership hailed a success

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World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September

An innovative partnership which is ensuring that people in east Suffolk can access additional out-of-hours support when they are at their most vulnerable has been hailed a success.

The pilot project has seen Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) join forces with the Samaritans to provide a listening service to people who may need additional emotional support. 

Clinicians working for NSFT’s Psychiatric Liaison Service, which is based in the Emergency Department at Ipswich Hospital, will refer suitable and consenting service users to the Ipswich and East Suffolk branch of Samaritans.

Volunteers from Samaritans will then arrange a phone call within the next 48 hours, in turn giving the service user the opportunity to access additional emotional support and someone to talk to at any time of the day or night.

The pilot in east Suffolk has been running for nearly a year and has benefitted around 100 people so far, attracting overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who have received calls. Plans are now in place to roll the scheme out more widely over the coming months.

As one of the project’s key aims is to reduce suicides, the news has been shared in the run up to World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place annually on 10 September.

Simon Leach, NSFT’s Locality Manager for East Suffolk, said: “This pilot is a fantastic example of how our Trust is working hand-in-hand with partners to further improve the care and emotional support which is available, especially outside of normal office hours. 

“The offer for a Samaritan volunteer to call could be made for a number of reasons – the individual may be waiting for an assessment or treatment, may not be eligible for treatment from the Trust, may be about to be discharged from Trust care or may just need to talk to. The aim is to give more people better support at a time when they are most vulnerable.

“The feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with service users feeling the partnership provides a really useful additional resource when they need some talking support. Wherever necessary, the Samaritans can also refer service users back to the Trust if they feel they could benefit from additional care and treatment.

“The project is a great example of one of the new and innovative schemes our Trust has introduced to meet the needs of patients, users and carers and provide ongoing emotional support. The partnership also provides peace of mind that there will be someone there to listen to how patients feel at any time of the day or night.”

The Samaritans receive one contact every six seconds across the UK and Ireland, with around 20% of those people expressing suicidal feelings. 

Judy Wright, Branch Director of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Samaritans, said: “This has proved to be a very worthwhile partnership that has enabled us to give support to people who need a little extra help when they are struggling to cope. 

“The feedback from people we have called has been extremely positive and on many occasions we have also been able to offer ongoing support. 

“We are delighted to be involved with this service specifically for local people and we look forward to continuing to work alongside the Psychiatric Liaison Team based at Ipswich Hospital as well as looking to expand this service working alongside NSFT to other areas across Suffolk and Norfolk in the future.”

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year to provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope or who needs someone to listen. Please call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org 

For further advice and to find out about the support that NSFT can offer, visit the Help in a crisis page here​.​

To find out more, visit our World Suicide Prevention Day page here​.​​