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New mental wellbeing service for Devon businesses launching in January

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A Devon charity is launching a pilot ‘Listening Ear’ service to provide a safe space for Devon business owners to chat about the challenges of running a business during a pandemic.

Listening Ear has been developed by a partnership of independent charity Devon Communities Together and Devon County Council, as a response to a need for business owners to have somebody to talk to about their general stresses and concerns, especially if they would rather not talk to their family and friends about these issues. This need has been identified by Heart of the South West Growth Hub and other business support advisors.

From the New Year, business owners who feel they would benefit from having someone to talk to will be able to register with Listening Ear and access the benefits of a conversation with a friendly, experienced volunteer.

Project Manager at Devon Communities Together, Dr. Louise MacAllister, commented: “If you are struggling with the pressure of running a business during a pandemic and would like a friendly ‘listening ear’ to talk to, please do get in touch. We’re not here to offer business advice; we’re here to provide a friendly, impartial listening ear so you can talk about whatever you feel you need to. Our experienced volunteers will provide a supportive ear and will also be able to signpost you to other services if you need them.”

Photo of Councillor Rufus Gilbert
Councillor Rufus Gilbert

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Councillor Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “I’m pleased that Devon County Council is funding this important pilot scheme. It has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, and businesses have faced some of the toughest economic conditions experienced for generations. Our thanks go to Devon Communities Together for providing the vital support this service will offer, which I’m sure will be very beneficial for many business owners.”

Although several volunteers have already been recruited, Devon Communities Together is seeking additional volunteers to cope with the anticipated high demand for the service.

Louise added: “If you have experience in running a business, providing professional services for businesses, or are an experienced coach, mentor or counsellor, we’d love to hear from you. Listening Ear’s focus is on people’s wellbeing. You will not need to give any business advice; you’ll simply be someone to listen, and signpost to other services if appropriate.”

The pilot Listening Ear Service will initially run until March 2021 and volunteers would need to commit to a minimum of one phone call each week. They will receive an induction pack and will be supported by Devon Communities Together throughout the process.

Please contact or call 01392 248919 if you would like to find out more about becoming a Listening Ear volunteer or feel you could benefit from talking to one of our volunteers. The office will be closed from Thursday 24 December until Monday 4 January but messages will be responded to as soon as possible in the New Year.

Listening Ear is funded by Devon County Council and it is initially a pilot until March 2021, with the possibility of being extended and expanded in the future. For more information, please visit the Devon Communities Together website.