AOP listening service clocks up 800 hours
AOP Peer Support Line marks five-year milestone and over 1200 calls
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) Peer Support Line marks its five-year anniversary this month.
Since launching the initiative in 2017, the AOP’s volunteers have taken a total of 1,246 calls, provided 924 support conversations – amounting to nearly 800 hours of listening time.
Open to individuals at any stage of their optical career, the Peer Support Line is a confidential, free-phone helpline set up to support wellbeing in the profession. The service is available to members and non-members alike, who are struggling with any kind of stress, worries or anxiety who would like to talk through their problems in a safe space.
Ziggy Shah, who has volunteered for the Peer Support Line since it opened said: “Talking can take a lot of courage and trust. People are nervous and worried when calling, but I would reassure colleagues that everyone’s personal experiences are important. The helpline is about peer to peer support – all of the volunteers are optometrists who have had extensive training in listening, confidentiality, and empathy skills.”
“We can’t offer solutions, or instant fixes, but we hope that callers can trust us. Discussing your problem can be a step towards a less stressful situation.” Mr Shah added.
On average 76% of calls are from optometrists, 20% from newly-qualified optometrists, pre-reg optometrists and undergraduate students – with stress, mental health and employment worries cited as the most common reason for their call.
Taking the opportunity to thank the volunteers, Dr Julie-Anne Little, AOP Chairman said: “The Peer Support Line simply wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated group of trained optometrists who give up their time to ensure it runs 365 days a year to support their peers.
“Making a call to a stranger can feel daunting, but rest assured our experienced volunteers are warm and can put you at ease – you don’t have to feel alone in anything you are facing”.
The Peer Support Line can be reached by calling, 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.
The AOP provides a range of health and wellbeing support services to members and the wider optical profession. Find out more about what’s available from the AOP Health and wellbeing pages including advice for managing stress and the menopause.
High resolution images are available in this Dropbox folder.
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.
Notes to Editors
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk