History of Let’s Keep Talking

How we began

Let’s Keep Talking originated as a response to the first UK wide lockdown in March 2020. A small team of therapists based in Liverpool were keen to use their therapeutic  skills and resources to provide support to anyone who was struggling with the impact of the lockdown or in need of ‘talking therapy’ but  finding it difficult to access the right sort of support for their needs at the time. One of the team suggested we set up our own, locally based telephone support service, using the same skills and techniques we brought to the therapy room but making them available free of charge via our own phones and from our own homes, to which we were all unfortunately confined at the time! 

The  phone service was set up in March 2020, to offer solution-focused conversations, initially to local people, from Liverpool and Merseyside and Wirral.  We advertised the service by swiftly putting together some flyers and distributing them via local community and voluntary service hubs, plus some local third sector organisations and NHS departments with whom we already had links,, and soon we were receiving a steady stream of referrals from local organisations including Citizens Advice, Merseycare services, the Women’s Information and Support Centre (WHISC) and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The first 9 months

The first referrals to LKT came in on 10th April 2021 and the first call was made the same day! From that point on, the service grew and grew, as word spread about the speed, flexibility and effectiveness of the service we offered.  As time went on, we began to get more referrals via organisations working with vulnerable people whose needs for talking therapy were not being met elsewhere. In particular, Citizens Advice on Prescription Liverpool began to refer clients to us on an almost daily basis, saying that we were providing a lifeline to many people for whom there was simply no other source of therapeutic support available.  

Momentum gathered so that , by the end of 2020 we had made over 1500 calls to over 150 people, and had expanded our team of callers to a pool of 25, drawn from all over the country! As 2021 dawned, the UK found itself in a 3rd National Lockdown and we found ourselves reaching and supporting more and more people. Not just in the Liverpool area but across the UK.

Given the accelerating nature of referrals, we also began to recognise that LKT was a much needed project that was filling needs that perhaps had been unmet for a very long time, not just those that had arisen out of the particular circumstances of the lockdown. We therefore began to look upon LKT as a more permanent project…

Recent developments: funding and support

All of the above meant that we needed to start thinking about the funding and other support that we would need to keep running and expand the project in the post-lockdown world. To do this we set up a number of ways of fundraising from the public, including a GoFundMe Campaign, and a local lottery run by monthly subscription. For more information about how LKT is funded, please click here.

Another much-needed development was to increase our visibility, social media and online presence to ensure that all people who want and need to use the service are aware of its existence and what we can offer.  We were incredibly lucky, in February 2021, to be introduced to Tann Westlake, who have adopted us as their charitable concern and have designed the logo and branding, and set up the website you are reading from now! For more information about Tann Westlake see https://tannwestlake.com/.

Research and evidence

As well as being able to see the need for – and the success of – LKT from the numbers of people being referred and the feedback we got from both them and their referrers (where applicable), it was important to us to have an independent evaluation of the project to ensure that the picture we were getting was backed up by through research findings.

Luckily, a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool Management School, whose work concerns the effectiveness of health service delivery from  the service user’s point of view, took an early interest in the project and, in July 2021 published a report setting out the findings of their independent evaluation report.  For more information about this research, and for service user and referrer testimonials about LKT, please see this page.

Looking to the future…

We very much believe that there is a need and an appetite for this kind of service on an ongoing basis and we look to a future in which we can feel secure in making a commitment to continue to provide it.

As a team we have been very privileged to work with people who have shown such strength and determination to reach their preferred version of life, in incredibly difficult circumstances. Some people have only needed a couple of calls to support them on their way, while for others regular calls over a longer time period have fitted their needs better. At Let’s Keep Talking, we enjoy being able to offer a service that truly fits with where people are at in their lives, rather than asking them to squeeze themselves into a ‘one size fits all’ model. We believe that LKT is unique in offering this flexibility and responsiveness, combined with consistence, regularity and speed!

This is why we are determined to continue this project into the future, and go from strength to strength!

Lets Keep Talking team February 2022