6 March 2019, OXFORD: Nominet, the profit with a purpose company operating at the heart of the internet infrastructure, is helping Samaritans develop a self-help tool for coping with distress and suicidal thoughts, and a new system which will allow volunteers to respond to significant volumes of additional contacts.
As one of Samaritans’ Digital Transformation Partners, Nominet will provide £175,000, in addition to lending their expertise as one of the country’s leading technology companies, to support the development of the two new digital products.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people, and the biggest killer of men under 50. As many as 1 in 5 people experience suicidal thoughts . In 2017, 1,588 young people aged between 10-34 took their own lives in the UK.
Samaritans interviews with target users highlighted that younger people, autistic people and people with social anxiety can find it more difficult to use Samaritans’ helpline, and may prefer to access self-help materials online. Navigating the world of online self-help can be difficult, and it’s crucial that resources are trustworthy and effective.
Clinical experts will feed in to the development of the self-help tool, which will give people resources to cope with suicidal thoughts and make an ongoing support plan so they can stay safe in a crisis.
The second tool that Nominet will be helping to develop is an Intelligent Dashboard for Volunteers. Samaritans volunteers deal with around 5 million requests for help a year, and by 2021 Samaritans estimates 6000 more volunteers will be needed to deal with the increasing demand.
The intelligent dashboard will help to manage the volunteers’ time so that they can provide better support. This has been funded by the Comic Relief tech4good fund.
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland says: “We are very grateful for the generous support of Nominet and excited about the opportunity to work together to build a digital tool to provide support now and in the future. We aim to develop a self-help tool trusted by users, that is accessible and will reach people earlier to reduce the risk of reaching crisis point. These valuable tools will enable us to help more people in need of support.”
Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet said: “Not everyone is happy calling a helpline in times of crisis. It’s vital that this isn’t a barrier preventing young people getting the help they need. We have the expertise and the resource to be able to help and are committed to working closely with Samaritans to change this, as well as looking at how cutting-edge technology can help Samaritans deploy its resources at a time of increasing demand.”
COO Eleanor Bradley, who leads Nominet’s public benefit programme, said: “Samaritans are working with us to develop their technology and process in support of local branches. With our technology expertise, we are supporting the development of a suite of intelligent data tools that can radically improve the way service allocation and resource decisions are made.”
Gareth Germer, COO of Samaritans, said: “We anticipate that the impact of Nominet’s support will open up our services to people who would never have thought to come to Samaritans for help, and allow us to respond to many more contacts. With a growing number of people experiencing suicidal distress today, work on these tools, which is due to start imminently, comes not a moment too soon.”
Samaritans is pleased to be working with The Developer Society, a not-for-profit co-op digital agency, to create both tools. Stephen Hawkes, Managing Director of DEV says “We’re really thrilled to be able to help Samaritans support more people by developing cutting edge digital solutions. Thanks to the fantastic support of Nominet, this project is going to make a huge difference in the lives of a lot of people.”
Samaritans and Nominet Partnership are hoping to develop an initial version of the self-help tool by December 2019. The intelligent dashboard for volunteers will be delivered in May 2019.
Originally posted here