In 2013, Pharmacist Support provided 1543 individual acts of support to pharmacists, former pharmacists, pre-registration trainees and pharmacy students. Our support included the distribution of over a quarter of a million pounds in financial assistance to those in need, over a million pounds' worth of gains secured for service users via state benefits, debt rescheduling, consolidation or write off and pay entitlements from employers and 150 hoursâ worth of Listening Friends helpline support.
In 2013, the charity saw an exceptional 43% increase in enquiries. These enquiries give us an insight into the topical issues affecting the sector. Wherever possible we look to raise the profile of these issues for the benefit of all pharmacists. In 2013 we saw an increase in the number of people accessing this service via our Live Chat facility and through social media. In response, new information was added to our website on topics such as carers, domestic violence, bereavement and home improvements.
âThe Listening Friends support I found very beneficial, as being a single parent can be lonely and undoubtedly stressful, both financially and no less emotionally!â
In 2013, the charity supported 91 individuals through a variety of stressful situations via the Listening Friends helpline. Staffed by trained volunteer pharmacists, this service provides callers with the opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence to a pharmacist about any stresses they are facing in their work or home life. This year saw an increase in callers to this service in the under 31 age range following a drop in calls from this group in 2012. There were also more calls from those over 60 than calls from those in the 45-60 age group, for the first time.
In our survey of nearly 1000 participants, 45% of pharmacists, 32% of pre-reg trainees and 40% of Mpharm students said that they âoftenâ felt stressed, and we responded.
Our wellbeing service was developed as a result of a legacy that was left to the charity in 2012 in memory of pharmacy owner Mr Robert Wardley. Following extensive research with pharmacists, pre-reg trainees and students we piloted wellbeing workshops and an online e-therapy tool. The sessions covered the science of stress and anxiety, their signs and symptoms along with tips and techniques to help with feelings of pressure and time management. This service was one of three new services the charity piloted in 2013.
âAs well as a grant we also received tailored advice regarding our benefit eligibility, which prompted us to apply for housing benefit and my partner to apply for Working Tax Credits. The support helped me to concentrate wholly on revising for my pre-reg exam which I passed in July 2013!â
In 2013, employment referrals to our advisers at the Citizens Advice Bureau accounted for 57% of all specialist advice referrals, followed by benefits at 27% and debt at 16%. This advice secured over Â£1m worth of gains to service users via state benefits, debt rescheduling /consolidation or write off and pay entitlements from employers.
âPeople often think that if you are a pharmacist you must be rich. But, if things happen, like a serious illness (in my case cancer) it doesnât matter how good with money you are, savings disappear. The money I received from Pharmacist Support made a big difference to our lives. It reduced my stress and enabled me to concentrate on getting better.â
In 2013 the charity was governed by a board of 9 trustees, staffed by 9 members of staff and 30 Listening Friend and Home Visitor volunteers.
Words from our wise volunteers:
âI think the Listening Friends service is important because sometimes in times of trouble it is easier to talk to an anonymous stranger, especially one who works in the world of pharmacy with its problems and constraints.â
âCallers know that we will not judge them but we will give them the space and time to tell their story. We donât make the decisions for them but we allow them to see their way and hopefully make the decision making process clearer and easier.â
In 2013, through our partnership with Action on Addiction, the charity was able to support 28 individuals and their families through challenging times. Addiction affects so many in our society. Our Health Support Programme was set up to provide both emotional and practical support to those who may struggle with dependency on alcohol or drugs or with any other addiction. For some people that may mean counselling, for others a residential stay in a treatment centre may be appropriate.
âImmediately I felt secure in the knowledge that at last I was ânot aloneâ. It was truly such a relief and comfort, which settled my stress levels and gave me hope that with their help I could cope and overcome the hurdles ahead of me.â
âRinging Pharmacist Support was the best thing we ever did. An addiction psychologist was soon in touch. He helped me to confront the nature of my illness and to recognise the benefit of going into residential treatment. At the same time, other staff helped my wife with advice and support, as well as emergency financial assistance to cover costs while I was gone.â
In 2013 the charity spent a total of Â£925,917 on charitable activities. Â£606k was spent on financial assistance, careers counselling, our information and signposting service and on delivering our home visiting programme. Â£41k was spent on our Listening Friends and specialist advice services, Â£46k on our Health Support Programme and Â£65k on the new Wardley Wellbeing pilot. Charity income came from a combination of investments (Â£351K), legacies (Â£452k) and donations (Â£32k). All of the incoming funds and a small amount of reserves were utilised to fund our activities, in line with our financial strategy. For a full breakdown of the charityâs income and expenditure check out our 2013 financial statements.
In 2013 the charity developed a new, more user friendly and mobile accessible website, hosting an ever expanding range of information and support. We also launched our very first e-newsletter and saw a significant increase in activity on our social media pages - 105% increase in 'Likes' on Facebook and a 58% increase in 'Follows' on Twitter.