Lifeline Northern Beaches, the non-profit organisation that provides free, around-the-clock crisis support, mental health assistance and suicide prevention counselling, is in need of help.
Like many charities, businesses and households over the past two years, Lifeline was adversely affected by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, which restricted its fundraising and limited its ability to meet running costs.
However, as a frontline rescue operation for distressed persons in urgent need of support and counselling, this drastic cut in revenue continues to place a severe strain on Lifeline’s operational efficiency.
Lifeline’s primary purpose is to provide telephone and in-person support to relieve the distress caused by crisis situations. These may include bereavement, family break-ups, financial constraints, loss of employment, or many other anxiety-inducing situations that trigger severe emotional anguish.
Operating from Balgowlah, one of only 40 Lifeline offices nationwide, with just a few salaried staff, Lifeline Northern Beaches is largely reliant on the generosity of over 600 local volunteers who provide time and services to assist those in need.
Lifeline Northern Beaches CEO David Thomas explained the organisation’s purpose.
“We are a call centre and a counselling centre with local counselling and face-to-face counselling support groups. What do we do? We’re helping those in crisis, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, loneliness, they call us up and we’re here to help. We are here to listen…
“But we do a lot more than counselling – effectively we are a social enterprise.”
The series of Covid-19 Lockdowns to combat spread of the coronavirus not only closed charity stores but also halted public sponsored events and assorted personal challenges that usually bring in vital revenue.
The latter include imaginative and amusing initiatives typically hosted by schools, businesses and community groups, such as head shaves, fancy dress balls, running races, long-distance cycling, dinners and trivia nights.
With social distancing in place to halt the virus, people couldn’t come together to raise funds.
David confirmed the crisis Lifeline Northern Beaches is experiencing: “The lockdown last year really impacted us, but at the same time increased demand for our cause, and our counselling exponentially increased.
“Lifeline raises funding through a variety of means. We’ve got our retail operations – 10 shops scattered throughout the Northern Beaches and in the Mosman area – and we have our book fairs, plus further fundraising initiatives, like the annual Lifeline Classic surfing competition.
“However, Lifeline Northern Beaches has had a really hard time over the last 12 to 18 months. The lockdown last year really impacted us; for months we had to close our shops. We couldn’t run a book fair, and we had to postpone the Lifeline Classic .. we really suffered. We were down about a million dollars by December last year and we’re still down.
“Meanwhile, our calls have gone up 50 per cent. A few years ago our counselling averaged around 15 to 30 sessions a month. Now we oversee more than 3,000 counselling sessions a year, and that is funded entirely by our retail and fundraising operations…”
Furthermore, Lifeline’s Balgowlah office, a converted former factory, is in urgent need of renovation with leaking roof and mould issues.
“We have expanded our counselling and we have extra counselling rooms but we don’t have the funds to maintain the building,” David revealed. “Some of the rooms we can’t use because they are falling apart. Yet we still have to respond to this demand…”
Lifeline are appealing to the public for assistance in the way of donations, fundraising initiatives or participation in this year’s big charity event, the annual Lifeline Classic surf competition, scheduled to take place on 18 September 2022.
It would be immensely helpful to get involved in this year’s major fundraiser and to share information about it with friends. A separate article on this will be published soon but in the interim you can head straight over to The Lifeline Classic website.
If you are certain you are not able to involve yourself in anyway with this year’s major fundraiser, we have established a special donation link for those who want to show their support but not be involved. All and any donations will go directly to the local suicide-prevention and mental health support services: https://lifelineclassic.lifelinenb.org.au/donations/2022-lifeline-classic-x-mo/
Lifeline Northern Beaches