Health & Medicine

Saturday, 23 July 2011 14:29

Please Call Me Service used to Connect Youth To HIV Awareness

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Ever been in a situation where you urgently need to speak to someone about a burning issue? Really need to chat to a professional counsellor but you have no privacy or you are nowhere near a payphone? loveLife, SA’s biggest HIV awareness organisation, announced the launch of a new Call-Back service to their popular call centre Youth Line.
Callers seeking advice can now send a ‘Please Call Me’ (PCM) or ‘beep’ to the loveLife Youth Line where the automated system will call them back and link them to a trained counsellor. While there are WAP and text-based information platforms, this is the first initiative by any call centre in South Africa to offer users free mobile connectivity to a counsellor. The process is simple, plus it’s free of charge to the end user and works by sending a normal PCM to service specific numbers connected to the loveLife Youth Line. The caller will receive a confirmation text message. Their number is added to a queuing system and depending on call volumes; the system will call back the users within minutes after they’ve sent the PCM, connecting them to the standard call centre recorded voice prompts and a counsellor.

According to Bernadette Robertson, loveLife’s Youth Line Manager, some teenagers are scared or cannot call the Youth Line because they do not always have confidentiality within their own homes or at payphones which are often situated in open spaces like spaza shops or even on public roads. “Some payphones are kilometres away from these kids and this obviously proves to be problematic if they should experience a problem and need to talk to a counsellor at night,” she adds. The aim of this initiative is to facilitate access to information and to address issues like safety and confidentiality.

Research conducted by the Research ICT Africa indicates that over 75% of South Africans above the age of 16 own a mobile phone and while they might not necessarily be the latest on the market, all mobile phones can send and receive a PCM. “The Please Call Me service has increasingly become popular among teenagers and we decided to take things to a new level by turning their phones into a tool that allows them to receive sexual health information and life skills information as well as counselling services. With this form of social marketing we are trying to extend our reach to more young people especially the youth in the marginalised communities,” says Bernadette.

Part of loveLife’s Make YOUR Move campaign challenges youngsters to make informed, healthy and deliberate choices in life and the Youth Line forms part of the educational and informational aspect of their strategy. Many kids feel embarrassed to discuss problems with a counsellor in person and the Youth Line allows a free, anonymous and more relaxed discussion between the caller and loveLife. Since inception in 2000, the loveLife Youth Line has proved to be highly successful and counsellors respond on average to more than 150 000 calls per month with calls dealing with issues ranging from HIV prevention, social and health issues as well as other plaguing teenage issues.

loveLife believes that the Call-Back service will assist young people to contact a trained counsellor when they have a problem.

The loveLife service is available through all three main service providers: Vodacom, MTN and Cell C to the number: 083 323 1023.

MTN:
*121*0833231023#

Vodacom:
*140*0833231023#

Cell C:
*111*0833231023#

-ends-

About loveLife

loveLife promotes healthy, HIV-free living among South African teenagers. Organised under the auspices of the loveLife Trust, loveLife combines a sustained high-powered multi-media campaign with nationwide community-level outreach and support programmes for youth. loveLife’s programmes are implemented by a national youth volunteer service corps known as groundBREAKERS in partnership with more than 150 community-based non-government organisations, 5100 schools and 500 government clinics across South Africa. Major funding for loveLife is provided by the South African Government and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by Barloworld, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BMW, Cellsmart Technologies, ChangeWright Consulting, DED (German Development Service), Dewey & Le Boeuf, IBM, Independent Newspapers, Jumpstart, Mondi, Murray & Roberts, Rapport, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Institute for Entrepreneurship, Southern Sun, Ster-Kinekor and the Vodacom Foundation.

For information visit www.lovelife.org.za or call 0800 121 900.

Read more http://www.mediaweb.co.za/journalist/mnews_j_.asp?id=3798

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