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20 years of Listening Friends

2016 not only marks 175 years of Pharmacist Support, it also marks 20 years of our Listening Friends scheme!

Established by Sue Sharpe, now Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee but who was Director of Legal Services at the RPSGB at the time, and Alan Nathan – who was then a member of the Society’s council and chairman of the committee that oversaw its disciplinary functions – the scheme was set up to provide an anonymous, non-judgmental listening ear to those in the profession struggling with a range of stressful situations.

20 years later, our volunteers continue to provide this free and confidential service and Sue still stresses the importance of its existence:

Sue Sharpe - cropped“As a society we need to ensure support is there to help people who have problems.  When we set up the scheme we felt that for pharmacists being able to talk to a fellow pharmacist who could understand the work pressures: the fear of and potential consequences of an error, would be beneficial.  There have been advances in recent years in dealing with a range of non-physical health issues, including use of talking therapies and a much sounder recognition of the need for good mental as well as physical health.  Workplace support is not always enough and people can be unwilling to talk to their employers.  To me, it is a really good aspect of the profession to show its care for its members.”

Calls to the Listening Friends service cover a range of issues that generally fall into two main categories – those of a professional nature, including employment issues, stress at work, discrimination and harassment, and those dealing with domestic and social issues, covering family matters such as relationship breakdown/divorce and bereavement, financial problems, illness and addiction. In many cases, however, it’s difficult to separate the two. The scheme provides a safe environment in which callers can speak about their worries and concerns.

Since 2009 volunteers have made over 2000 calls to pharmacists, trainees and MPharm students in need.

For further information visit the Listening Friends page on our website

To speak with a Listening Friend call 0808 168 5133

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