Shortfall strands young in need
Hundreds of calls from South Canterbury young people are going unanswered by helpline services due to a lack of funding.
Youthline was contacted 4680 times by 360 South Canterbury young people last year. An estimated 300 calls went unanswered, chief executive Stephen Bell said.
However, all texts received were responded to.
Mr Bell said a lack of funding had contributed to the service's inability to answer calls.
"Funding is always a challenge with the service costing about $1 a minute.
"If we were able to raise an additional $180,000 a year we would improve our coverage from 65 per cent to closer to 90 per cent of all the calls being answered.
"It is a challenge and we are working extremely hard to be there when a young person needs help."
Another Youthline spokesperson said the group had great success responding via text. "We thought it would be quite hard to do counselling by text, but young people didn't want to call us."
She said clients using texts were more inclined to "get straight to the point".
"It kind of cuts out all of the ordinary conversation.
"We can work with them quite easily once we know what the issue is."
Nationally, 18,000 people contacted the service last year, and many used the text service.
A further 8641 "attempted" calls from South Canterbury were made to 0800 What's Up, another counselling service dedicated to youth. Of those calls, 82 per cent were made from mobile phones.
Helpline manager Rhonda Morrison said the number of unanswered calls from the district was not recorded.
The group does not yet offer text counselling, but it has recently received funding to assist with that in the future, as well as email counselling, she said.
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