We are thrilled to announce we have been awarded a grant of £65,943 to support more people with tinnitus contacting our free and confidential Tinnitus Support Services.

This grant from the Peter Sowerby Foundation will enable us to develop a digital chatbot function as part of our Tinnitus Support Services.  We offer support, reassurance and information to people struggling with tinnitus by telephone, SMS, email and web chat during office hours. The chatbot would harness artificial intelligence technology to provide personalised support and field questions, transferring to a Helpline Adviser during working hours, when needed.

The chatbot will also be available outside of the normal helpline hours, meaning our services can reach more people. Evenings and nights are often times when people with tinnitus struggle with anxiety and feelings of loneliness and tinnitus can feel much worse. This can be a point when many seek information online. Being able to access personalised support at a time convenient for individuals could reduce anxiety and stress and prevent an escalation of symptoms.

Calls to our helpline have increased by 143% in the last year. This surge is not expected to drop, with tinnitus now recognised as an effect of long Covid. At a time when healthcare services are stretched and demand for support has increased, this new digital service will have a transformational impact on people struggling to access tinnitus support.

Development of the chatbot is due to begin this year and it will hopefully be up and running in early to mid-2022. We will go on to develop the chatbot further based on feedback to ensure that it is fit for purpose and responds well to user needs.

We are deeply grateful for the Foundation’s support, meaning we can continue to be there for more people when they really need us.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash