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AOP Peer Support Line marks five-year anniversary

Supporting members at all career stages, the AOP established its Peer Support Line offering in May 2017

PSL

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the AOP’s confidential, free-phone Peer Support Line, having launched the service in May 2017. Since then, it has received more than 1200 calls from practitioners looking for a safe space to discuss any problems they may be experiencing, both in and outside of practice, and professional and personal.

In 2021, volunteers took 293 calls, averaging 24 calls per month. The three main reasons given for calling for support were: employment (17%), stress (17%), and mental health (16%). The service aims to provide members and non-members at any stage of their optical career the opportunity to talk with a trained, empathetic peer who recognises the pressures of optical practice.

What is the Peer Support Line?

Speaking to one of the AOP’s 29 Peer Support Line volunteers enables practitioners to talk through their problems in a dedicated, non-judgemental space. Volunteers are trained AOP members who will not give advice, but will offer other possible sources of support and, where relevant, help callers to reach a resolution or take action. Importantly, the volunteers understand the benefits of having someone listen who is impartial and has no personal agenda.

Calls can be on a range of issues, including workplace pressure, bullying, ill health, financial worries, bereavement, or anxiety about exams. No issue is too small or too trivial.

Calls are completely anonymous and only a first name or alias will be requested.

Practitioners who have used the service have told us

“The man I spoke to was very encouraging, patient and positive – thank you for your help.”

“The volunteer was very kind and understanding.”

The number

Call 0800 870 8401. Calls are answered 24 hours a day by an external answering service, with volunteers on duty to return calls between 8am and 8pm.

Read more about the service from those who volunteer.

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