Lifeline store closures leave helpline in doubt

Lifeline store closures leave helpline in doubt

There are concerns about just how Lifeline’s crisis support line will keep running after the charity was forced to shut all its Queensland stores.

The stores closed at 5pm on Thursday until further notice.

Many of Lifeline’s retail employees and volunteers are in at-risk age groups and the stores were deemed too risky to their health.

Lifeline’s Queensland retail general manager Jamie Mackay said the closure was made to keep those volunteers and staff safe.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to support our amazing retail employees and volunteers during this temporary closure, and have no intention of reducing positions across our stores,” he said.

Lifeline has been forced to shut its Queensland stores.

“Our people will be able to access a range of supports, including going into negative annual leave where possible.”

But the stores’ closure leaves Lifeline’s crisis support and suicide prevention phone line under financial strain.

The stores directly fund the 24-hour phone line that Lifeline is determined to keep running.

“We’re fielding an unprecedented volume of calls at the moment, and we’re struggling to answer the phone to everyone,” Mr Mackay said.

“Our 13 11 14 crisis-support line is under unprecedented demand from the Queensland community due to the financial and mental health impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families.

Mr Mackay has called for increased Queensland Government support for the crisis line to keep it running.

“We desperately need urgent funding from the Queensland Government to ensure our 13 11 14 crisis- support line is not only able to weather the absence of revenue from our retail stores, but to service the increased public demand due to COVID-19,” said Mr Mackay.

“Now more than ever, the public need that compassionate listening ear on the end of the phone. We know it saves lives,” he said.