AOP seeks volunteers to provide vital peer support line

An opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing of optical professionals

25 Jan 2017

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is seeking members to volunteer for an important new service which aims to offer peer-to-peer support for those suffering with stress or anxiety.      

The AOP Peer Support Line will provide a listening service for qualified optometrists, dispensing opticians and students, and is designed specifically for the profession.

The service will provide callers with the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence to a fellow optical professional about stress they are facing in their work or home life.

Volunteers will take calls on a range of situations which could include stress caused by workplace pressure, bullying, ill health, financial worries, bereavement or anxiety about exams. Volunteers will not provide advice but will listen to the concerns of the caller empathetically and, where appropriate, signpost them to third parties for practical advice and information.   

Chief Executive of the AOP, Henrietta Alderman, said: "The AOP has recognised that there is a need for support of this type to be available to those working in the profession and struggling with worries that fall outside of our established legal, clinical or regulatory advice. We are launching the AOP Peer Support Line to bridge that gap between the practical advice in our current offering, and emotional support needed for more personal and sensitive situations.”

Ms Alderman added: “Volunteering for this service offers members a unique opportunity to take an active role in shaping the support network available and positively contributing to the wellbeing of their peers."   

Chairwoman of the Peer Support Line, Thurka Sivapalan, said: "Stress can have a profound effect on someone’s day-to-day life and presents itself in many forms and for a variety of reasons. Often the first step to managing an issue is talking about it, but for those who are finding it hard to ask for help, or feel they will be burdening their family and friends it can be difficult to know where to turn. Having access to a service like this, to talk through issues, can be an absolute lifeline."

The AOP Peer Support Line will be a phone service staffed by optical professionals – with the aim of providing callers with fast confidential access to trained volunteers who understand the pressures of optometry life. The AOP is looking for optometrists and dispensing opticians, at a range of levels, who are able to commit to two days each month to be ‘on call’. 

The service will be launched in early summer 2017. For more information about this volunteer position and training available to support the role visit the Peer Support Line page.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support our community of more than 16,500 members to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit

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