The Drinks Trust is on course to have helped up to 5,000 extra people during 2020 who have fallen into serious difficulties because of the impact of Covid-19. The stark reality is that we are faced with months of yet more uncertainty, disruption, anxiety and job losses as businesses, and, in turn, their staff are hit by the continued fallout of the pandemic. It’s why the Drinks Trust has stepped up its efforts to offer as many people in the sector an even wider range of emotional, mental and physical support measures and services to help them as best they can, as Nicola Burston, the Trust’s operations and services manager, explains.
Here’s how you can make the most of The Drinks Trust’s comprehensive range of wellness and support measures for people in the drinks and hospitality sectors.
Tell us about the new enhanced support services you are looking to offer the drinks industry?
We all know that this year has been particularly difficult for our industry, and our colleagues and friends from the industry had to face quite a lot of challenges. We were already offering 8am-8 pm helpline, but we felt that lots of people might also need to reach us late at night or on the weekend. We understand that with the new restrictions most people are spending lots of time at home, where it might be not easy finding the space and time for a private phone call.
So we set about finding a way to expand our service to 24 hours, seven days a week and create a mechanism whereby people can also reach our counsellors initially via email, meaning people can hopefully feel like they can reach out to us right in their moment of need.
Why have you linked up with Spectrum.Life and what is it they do?
We did much research and had a rigorous tender process with several wellbeing providers, but Spectrum. Life struck us immediately with the incredible range of services it provides. Its mission is to make clinical standards the benchmark for workplace wellbeing practices. Spectrum is doing this by delivering the highest quality services, delivered by fully accredited, experienced professionals in combination with eLearning and digital programmes.
All calls to our helpline are answered by counsellors and clinically trained psychotherapists, and the caller receives in depth, “in the moment” support to help them cope more effectively with any personal or work-related problems they may be experiencing.
There seems to be a call to action in this new package to help those who have lost their jobs or are on furlough at the moment?
Our primary focus is to provide help and support to any member of the drinks and hospitality industry who might be facing difficulties. However, we understand that those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic or are on furlough might find themselves under much more pressure due to financial worries, and their mental health and wellbeing might be more vulnerable at the moment. Hence our decision to step in with new support systems.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone, and we understand the need for support talking through a whole range of issues from anxiety to parenting advice has never been as great.
How will this differ to the range of Wellness Services you are already running?
The idea is expanding the range of support system, aiming at providing the drinks and hospitality industries workforce with bespoke holistic support to safeguard their physical and mental health, and in general wellbeing.
First of all, we are accessible more of the time and in more ways. Secondly, anyone that contacts the helpline is assigned a case handler who will stay with them as long as they are receiving help with us. Additionally, as well as the talking therapy with Dr Julian, we now have the capacity to offer two other types of service, referred according to assessed need by the counsellor.
These could be a counselling session with a specialist on one of six topics (legal advice; mediation support; life and career coaching; consumer advice; financial advice and parenting coaching). And finally, we also now have the option to offer online CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) on one of 30 different topics, again referred by the Spectrum counsellors based on assessed need.
This is just phase one. We will be launching even more services next year through the partnership with Spectrum, as we are aiming to provide 360-degree full assistance to the workforce of the drinks and hospitality industry.
Can you remind people what the Wellness Services are and how they can use them?
In the summertime, The Drinks Trust launched significantly increased wellness services, with the hope of meeting the needs of our colleagues struggling with new challenges after the first lockdown.
We have partnered with Club Soda, the Mindful Drinking Movement, which has helped numerous people to change their approach to alcohol. The service is not for those who have significant dependent issues, but is rather designed for those who want to reassess their approach to drinking.
With the emerging need from the wider drinks industry as a result of work uncertainty and decreased physical energy expenditure to help with sleep and insomnia issues, hence the Trust partnered with Sleepstation, the leading UK provider of sleep and insomnia treatment to the NHS.
We’ve also partnered with Dr. Julian, the online app-based therapy service which puts mental healthcare into the hands of the individual and that can be accessed through online video sessions and instantaneous text, that you can have on your phone, tablet or computer whenever and wherever you want.
(Here is The Drinks Trust chief executive Ross Carter explaining the range of Wellness Services to The Buyer’s Richard Siddle when they were launched earlier in the year)
You are also going to be offering additional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses. Can you explain what they are and how people can sign up to them?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. CBT courses are a clinical referral through the helpline. The counsellor that the user would speak to on the initial call would make the clinical assessment whether Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was the most appropriate pathway and if so, refer them into that programme.
The service we utilise is SilverCloud which is clinician-led and the same service used by the NHS. The program includes a lot of topics, including for example resilience, Covid-19, health anxiety, social anxiety, which are incredibly relevant right now, in addition to GAD, depression, phobia and stress just to name a few. We believe it’s a very comprehensive offer.
Since you have been running these wellness and support initiatives where have you seen the most demand for help?
I would say that we have noticed a substantial increase in demand for help from individuals suffering from a range of mental health issues, spanning from depression to sleep problems including a considerable number of people reporting high anxiety levels and calls to our helpline have doubled this year. We are now working towards evaluating the data of our work in 2020, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the service people needed most was counselling session, right after financial assistance.
What sort of feedback have you had from the people you have been able to help?
We have been receiving heart-warming thank you messages from our beneficiaries, telling us how our help impacted their lives and how we’ve helped them got back on their feet or any members of their families, or one of the things that is mostly reported is that feeling of relief of knowing that we are there to help them. It might sound rhetorical, but when we receive these messages, or when we hear about the lives of people that we’ve helped, it all comes together to what the real meaning of our work is: helping those who are not as fortunate as we are. We are very grateful to be able to be still able to help those people.
This is a big investment and upgrade to what you have been able to offer the trade – are you looking for extra corporate and personal funding?
This year has been extraordinary in the literal meaning of the term: the demand for our services has been at an all-time high, so far we have helped over 4,110 people, and by the end of the year we will help around 5,000 colleagues facing severe difficulties. However, the demonstration of generosity from the industry has been overwhelming. We would have never been able to help so many people in need without their support. Having said that indeed the Trust is continually looking for funding to sustain our welfare work in providing help and support.
Notwithstanding the fantastic reach we’ve had, far too many colleagues are still in dire need of help: at the moment, amongst many forms of difficulties, many are facing council taxes arrears, rental arrears, or they are not able to afford presents for their children for Christmas. So, if your company is in the position to sign up for a business partnership, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss with our team how you could support us. Our help is still very much needed.
What are the ways that individuals can best support the Drinks Trust – monthly subscription?
The benefit on a monthly donation is that the charity can rely on a monthly secured income, allowing us to have a sustained plan of work for the months ahead. So to answer your question, yes if people could spare £5, £10 a month this would benefit greatly our work and the help we provide. To sign up to a monthly donation please go here.
However, we know that it’s been a very difficult year, so if someone might want to support us without the commitment of a monthly expense, we always encourage to organise a fundraising initiative, even with your colleagues: first it is really good fun, and then you know that your efforts are for a good cause. If you need some inspiration, we had some incredible initiatives this year, and you can have a look at a few of them here. https://drinkstrust.squarespace.com/covid-fundraiser-activity