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NOTICE OF PERMANENT HELPLINE CHANGE

Our 24/7 Helpline is now Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 9:00pm

Greetings from the Abbie Shelter team. Please be advised of this change to our Helpline services. While we are saddened by this loss of a 24/7 service in our community that has provided care to many people, we have identified this as a necessary change to sustain our organization. We welcome your questions and comments, directed to Hilary Shaw at director@abbieshelter.org.


PERMANENT HELPLINE CLOSURES:

1. Closed from 9pm – 9am, and on weekends.

2. Closed on federal holidays.

3. There will be no emergency hoteling services when the Helpline is closed.


ALTERNATIVE ACCESS POINTS FOR SERVICES:

1. A recorded voice greeting on the Helpline will refer callers to the Abbie website, and offer a brief list of emergency resources. (There will be no voicemail option.)

2. The Abbie website will offer clear instructions and information for what to do when the Helpline is closed.

3. A contact form will be provided on the website, offering an alternative path to accessing services.


BACKGROUND

The Abbie Shelter has operated our 24/7 Helpline since 1976. Since its inception, a focus of the Helpline has been to be available at the exact moment when a survivor is ready to reach out for help. We know this moment does not follow the rules of regular business hours. As the organization has grown – our reach extending, the number of people served annually steadily increasing, and our sub-sector professionalizing – our field has clung to our attachment to the 24/7 nature of Helplines.


In the past year, the Abbie’s infrastructure began to deeply buckle under the weight of maintaining the 24/7 nature of our Helpline. As I have previously written, the cracks in the foundation have been evident for decades. Our subsector has always struggled to find the balance between accessible care and sustainable care provision.


We stepped back to examine what the 24/7 Helpline means to the heart of our mission:

1. What larger purpose does it serve? Who does it serve?

2. How are survivors benefiting from this round-the-clock service?

3. Is the 24/7 nature of our Helpline enabling us to meet our mission in ways that more limited hours would not?


We looked at the statistics:

1. 75% – 85% of calls come in during the business day.

2. 25% - 35% of non-business day callers are not primary victims of intimate partner violence related crimes.

3. Less than 5% of non-business day callers are in high danger.


We considered the historical growth of the organization:

When our Helpline started in 1976 (as the Kalispell Rape Crisis Line), we did not offer any other regular services. Our programming sat firmly in the category of “crisis intervention” (although this was not the official jargon yet). We operated without a paid staff person until 1981. The shelter opened in 1994. Legal advocacy services began in 2000. We introduced our mental health services in 2015. In the past 10 years the organization has doubled its staff. We are now a human service agency operating several unique programs during the workweek, including residential, legal, and mental health. The level of support we are able to offer is expansive compared with our 1976 capacity.


We reached consensus, and we are ready for a change:

When we step back, it is evident in both the data and the experience that a 24/7 Helpline is not enabling us to do our work any better than if we focused on a more standard window of operations. As a human service agency, we can no longer manage our daily programming while simultaneously serving in a round-the-clock emergency public safety role. With this change, we can further focus our attention and expertise on helping people access the resources they need for safety from an abusive relationship… when those services are open.




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