Samaritans is creating two new digital tools to expand its services to help it meet rising demand.
These tools are a self-help tool for coping with suicidal thoughts, and an “intelligent dashboard for volunteers”, a new system which will help volunteers to manage service users.
The self-help tool will offer early intervention resources for those with suicidal thoughts, and will offer a safety plan feature to help people stay safe in the event of a crisis. It comes after Samaritans found that younger people, autistic people and those suffering with social anxiety find it difficult to use Samaritans' helpline, and so may prefer an online alternative.
The dashboard will use a predictive model of capacity and demand to help volunteers. It is being made to cope with rising demand for Samaritans' services, with the charity estimating that 6,000 new volunteers will be needed by 2021.
The tools are being developed with the internet infrastructure company, Nominet, which has invested £175,000 in the initiative, and digital agency, The Developer Society.
The intelligent dashboard has also received £46,480 from the Comic Relief tech4good fund.
Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of Samaritans, said: “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, chief executive of Nominet added: “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.”
The intelligent dashboard will be delivered in May while the self-help tool will be ready by December.