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10 things we've learned from one year at Shout 85258

Since our first day launching publicly as Shout 85258, we have learned a lot about our organisation, the people who text us in need of support and the volunteers and staff who sit at the heart of what we do.

Shout 85258 is the UK’s first free text support service, there for anyone, any time. We are there for moments when life feels overwhelming, we are there for anyone feeling that they have no one else to talk to, we are there for you.

Here are just some of the things we’ve learned over the last year:

1. 55% of texters contact us because they have no one else to talk to.

Over half of the texters who contact Shout, feel as though they have no one else they could talk to in their time of crisis. It’s not unusual to feel alone when we’re experiencing something tough. It’s important to remember during these times that you never have to go through anything by yourself. Shout 85258 exists to be that listening, non-judgemental space, when everything might feel lonely and overwhelming.

Testimonials

‘Thank you for your time and replies, my world doesn’t feel as lonely as it did before I spoke to you’

2. More than a third of our texters have never asked for help elsewhere

Asking for help can be tough; at Shout we know that almost 40% of the people who text us have never asked for help elsewhere before contacting the service. Sometimes we might not feel we have someone to turn to in our time of need, or we may fear the reaction of those who could support us. Opening up to someone we don’t know, in a non-judgemental and safe environment, can empower us to move forward and make a plan for our next steps.

3. Over half of the people who text Shout 85258 tell us something that they have not told someone else before.

Expressing our feelings and emotions is not always easy. 55% of our texters will tell us something that they have never told anyone else before. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the words or open up to others and explain how we are feeling. There’s often a fear that if we revealed how we truly felt, that we could be judged or misunderstood. Opening up can make us vulnerable and sometimes the issues we are facing can be difficult to communicate (particularly if the issues we are experiencing involve the circle of support we might normally access or turn to, e.g. family/friend difficulties). If the experience you’re going through is new to you, or it's something you might find it easier to type than talk about - remember we’re always here for you.

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4. Our Shout Volunteers come from all walks of life.

In the year we’ve been running, we have built up a community of more than 2,000 empathetic volunteers. We welcome people from all walks of life to join our diverse and caring community! From air traffic controllers to jewellery makers, wind turbine technicians to chefs and hairdressers anyone can make a brilliant volunteer for Shout. All we ask is that our volunteers have the time and commitment to train and that they are able to provide a couple of hours to sign on and help others, once a week.

5. We have volunteers based all over the UK

Shout volunteers are based throughout the UK, with the largest proportions currently residing in London and the South East of England. We’re steadily growing in the Midlands and the North and are always looking for more volunteers to join our community. So whether you’re in John O’Groats or Lands End, over the sea in Northern Ireland, or based in the remote Yorkshire countryside - we’re looking for you! The service is powered online and all our volunteers require a secure internet connection and a laptop to join. If you meet these requirements and are interested, head here to find out more.


6. An issue can look or feel different to every person

In the last year, we’ve helped more than 130,000 texters, in over 290,000 conversations. A mental health issue looks and feels different for everyone. At Shout, we are here to provide support no matter what you’re experiencing. In over 34% of conversations, suicidal thoughts and feelings were mentioned. Anxiety and depression were experienced by texters in around 32% of conversations. Some other things that people regularly reach out to talk about are relationship issues (27%), loneliness (18%) and self-harm (14%). We understand that managing these feelings by yourself can be overwhelming and all-consuming.


7. 86% of people who text Shout find the service to be helpful

We’re an empathetic bunch here at Shout. We love to hear from our texters and to feel that with each conversation we are helping to make a difference. Bringing our texters from crisis to calm is the core focus of our service, and knowing that a conversation has helped, gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Here’s some of the lovely feedback our texters have left for us, post-conversation.

Testimonials

It means so much to have a simple conversation with someone who is kind, and will listen’

8. Working with other charities is helping us to reach more people in need

Not every texter who contacts the service comes directly through Shout. Around 10-15% of our texters find us whilst browsing other charitable sites for support, more specific to their needs. At Shout we partner with well known UK charities such as ‘The Mix’ and ‘Young Minds’, powering their 24/7 crisis messenger and allowing more young people to access the service, when other helplines might not be suitable or available. Working with our charity partners helps us to reach people from different backgrounds, experiencing different issues, where otherwise our presence as a crisis messenger service might not be known. For example, we have partnered with charities such as SignHealth to reach and support texters from the Deaf community and Switchboard to support texters experiencing LGBTQ+ related issues.

9. Uncertainty can be difficult to cope with, but we’re here for you!

We see it in our data, that often the anticipation or uncertainty of an upcoming event can lead to greater mentions of a topic or higher levels of anxiety amongst the people who text us

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, things were feeling quite uncertain in the UK. There was concern about the impact of COVID-19 and what life might look like for each of us, during a pandemic.

We saw feelings of anxiety and stress rise by over 10% from being mentioned in around 32% to almost 43% of conversations, in just one week. Mentions of feeling ‘uncertain’ also increased by almost 8%. Following the confirmation of UK lockdown actions and guidelines in late March 2020. This was followed by a slow but steady decrease back down to average levels.

Something we have learned? The feeling of uncertainty and the anticipation of what is to come, can often feel distressing and anxiety-provoking. Having certainty and clarity helps to reduce that experience. You’re never alone, especially during those moments where everything can feel a little overwhelming, different or hard to navigate.

10. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we experienced the world

Since lockdown began, we have seen almost 10,000 conversations mentioning COVID-19 and it’s impact. We explored some of the main themes that surrounded the feelings of uncertainty and change during the COVID-19 lockdown. The majority of texters feared:

Texters talking about COVID-19, have been almost twice as likely to mention Anxiety/Stress (54%) compared to average (32%). Change can be unsettling and hard to process. We’re here for you.

Whether you find it easier to type than talk, or you’d prefer to chat to someone who doesn’t know you - you can contact Shout for non-judgemental support, 24/7. Text SHOUT to 85258 to start a conversation.

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