TASC The Ambulance Staff Charity is handling a near five-fold increase in the number of ambulance personnel being referred or turning to it for help.
TASC provides independent and confidential services which include psychological rehabilitation and counselling, including stress and PTSD support; physical rehabilitation; financial grants; debt advice; and welfare and bereavement support.
During the first year of operating, from April to December 2015, TASC dealt with a total of 59 cases, of which eight per cent involved mental health difficulties. However, so far in 2018, TASC has received 273 cases – a near five-fold increase – and more than eight in ten (84 per cent) relate to mental health problems of one kind or another.
TASC now has plans to take to the road to make more people aware of the support available to present and past ambulance staff and their families. The charity will use its new vehicles to travel across the country later this year to visit staff from both the NHS and independent sectors and share how it can support them at their time of need.
Angie Crashley, TASC’s Support Services Manager, said:
“We have seen an increase of about 360 per cent in the number of cases we deal with from 59 in our first year in 2015 to 273 so far this year. This is important news for the charity as it means that people know we are here for them and shows that there is a need for what we provide. We want our services and support to be as accessible as possible to both NHS staff and those in the independent sector, and the roadshows will help us to get the message out there.”
The roadshows will be run by a team of people including a TASC staff member, a debt advisor to help those struggling with financial difficulties, and a counsellor from The Red Poppy Company specialising in trauma support who would be able to offer on-site advice to anyone in immediate need. Angie and the team are also considering what other areas the roadshows might cover, which could include support for people dealing with the suicide of a friend or family member and welfare benefits advice.
There will also be a range of information available for people to take away with them so they can learn more about the services on offer and how to get in touch if anyone needs TASC’s help.
“When we started in 2015 there was very little we could do for those who came to us with mental health difficulties. But we now have a number of different strands such as residential physical and psychological rehabilitation, and locally-based counselling with the help of The Red Poppy Company. We have also provided additional funding to various staff member’s employers in order to continue their counselling should they need it.”
As well as the increase in ambulance staff requiring support for mental health issues, there has also been a rise in cases of people seeking help for domestic abuse. All in all, TASC is currently receiving between five and eight new referrals a day.
“The cases are more complex now. Someone with mental health problems may be facing financial issues as well, for example. And if someone has been physically injured, their mental health can also suffer. Everyone is treated individually and in total confidence – we don’t try to place anyone in boxes. It’s about getting the best long-term outcome for individuals – we don’t look to provide short-term sticking plaster remedies.”
Since TASC was launched in 2015, taking over from the Ambulance Services Benevolent Fund, it has spent more than £83,200 on grants to help ambulance staff in financial difficulties. In addition, it has spent a further £41,600 on local support services for those with mental health difficulties including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma.
A total of £26,000 has gone on residential rehabilitation for those with physical injuries, with a further £7,500 on residential mental health wellbeing support, both provided through the Police Treatment Centres. And just over £6,000 has been spent on specialist debt management advice and support.
For more information about TASC’s support services call the TASC Support line on 0800 1032 999 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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