A new pilot project offering a safe and private space for people to attend virtual appointments has opened at the Talk Wandsworth hub in Tooting. The safe space, also known as the POD, has been set up to provide service users with a private and confidential space to attend virtual appointments, therapy sessions and workshops.
Talk Wandsworth is one of three NHS talking therapies services run by South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. NHS talking therapies, or psychological therapies, are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners. They can help with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression.
The POD is a digital solution for service users who do not have a quiet or private space at home, or who do not have access to technology like smartphones or computers to be able to attend virtual appointments. The space is also ideal for people who do not feel comfortable using technology and may need assistance with logging on to their appointment.
Virtual appointments were introduced by the Trust during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure service users could continue receiving the support they need. Attend Anywhere, the video platform used by the Trust, is a completely secure and confidential service which offers a convenient alternative to face-to-face appointments, where appropriate.
The POD is a private room located at the Talk Wandsworth Hub near Tooting Broadway station. Inside the room there is a computer monitor and office chair for clients to attend their virtual appointments in a quiet, comfortable space. When service users arrive for their appointment, a member of staff is also on hand to guide them to the POD and advise on how to log on.
Service users who are interested in using the POD should speak to their consultant clinician or therapist about booking an appointment. The POD is a pilot project and if successful, safe spaces will be rolled out in more locations including schools, GP practices and libraries in south west London.
Rosemary Agbonson, project manager for the POD, said: “We know many people prefer virtual appointments to attending hospital, but we also know that not everyone has the right technology or feels comfortable attending virtually from somewhere where their family or friends might be able to overhear. We hope the POD will mean that more people feel able to ask for the help they need.”
A service user said: “I am immensely grateful that the safe space was available to me. I would not have been able to complete my therapy otherwise. I think for others who need a separate safe space where they can speak about their traumas and/or struggles, availability of such a space is essential. I hope that this continues to be available to others so that they are able to benefit as I have, heal, and move forward with their lives healthier.”