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Using digital to increase service capacity

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Get Connected share their experience of using digital technology to expand their services, reaching and supporting more of their beneficiaries than ever before.

Background

Get Connected is a free, confidential and multi-issue helpline service for young people under 25 who need help, but don’t know where to turn.

Our service is available 365 days a year to children and young people throughout the UK, over the phone, via web chat, email or our free app. Our website also includes a searchable directory of support services, plus aggregated information, advice and guidance on mental and emotional wellbeing from our trusted partners.

Our national helpline service is run by a small staff team, 100 volunteers and an online service. In 2014/15 we helped over 228,000 children and young people find the help they need, 203,000 of which were helped online.

The issues we faced

Demand for Get Connected’s services increased by 27% last year and our team of dedicated Volunteer Connectors helped 25,000 young people across our interactive channels (phone, email, SMS and web-chat). Managing this increase in demand is challenging and we identified the need to increase our Volunteer Connector team, however we were restricted by being based in London and needed technology and a new flexible volunteer model to enable our capacity to grow.

The actions we took

We began increasing the number of Connectors by introducing a team of remote Digital Connectors, who are able to help more young people in crisis, using digital technology. We are also able to provide opportunities for more flexible remote volunteering via our digital helpline technology, as well as diversifying our team of Connectors to include older people, those with mobility issues and people outside of London.

Positive outcomes

  • We are actively increasing our volunteer opportunities away from London and diversifying the type of volunteer.
  • 30 Digital Connectors have been trained since February 2015 and are actively helping young people every day of the week.
  • We have been able to increase the opening hours of our helpline by two hours every day.
  • Digital Technology including Skype, webinars and web-chats have been used to recruit, train and supervise the new digital connectors. This has led to helping more young people whilst reducing operational overhead costs.

Negative outcomes

We have found the severity of issues young people contact us with via web-chat have increased since April 2015, leading to longer web-chat sessions. This has meant our ability to help more young people has been slightly impacted.

Our volunteer recruitment and training programme has been adapted to support volunteers remotely. This has led to some delays with our ability to graduate volunteers quickly due to the levels of training required.

Lessons learnt

  • We have trained 30 new Volunteer Digital Connectors and will be recruiting over 65 by March 2015.
  • In 2015/16 we are on track to be able to help 33,000 children and young people across the UK via our webchat and email channels thanks to our team of Digital Connectors – an increase of 25%.
  • Local and national support services are benefitting from appropriate referrals.
  • Our new volunteer Digital Connectors are able to provide social action supporting young people from their location in a way that fits their lifestyle and other commitments, using digital technology.

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Page last edited Aug 14, 2017

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