Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we opened the Mavi Kalem Hotline so that more people can reach the consultancy services we provide over the phone easily and free of charge.
The Hotline can be accessed from anywhere in Turkey. This line is available in Turkish, Arabic and Persian. The hotline can be reached every weekday between 10.30 – 16.30 hours. Those who call the hotline can get information on current issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Information Network (EBA). They can get support such as making an appointment from hospitals or public institutions and translation. In addition, they can get information about the services provided by Mavi Kalem and they can participate in these events later by stating their desire to participate in online activities. Those in need are referred to other institutions and organizations or to health counseling, legal counseling and psychological consultancy services within Mavi Kalem.
With the establishment of a hotline and support of stakeholder organizations in expanding the hotline, the number of clients calling from other parts of Istanbul and outside the city has increased.
During the remote consultancy, the majority of the calls received were financial requests, food support and health consultancy requests. Beneficiaries seeking food support are referred to the municipalities that provide this support. With the start of schools, access to online education has also become a major problem for many families. One of the intense requests for consultancy numbers was support for technological materials and internet access. We referred the beneficiaries who could not access the Education Information Network (EBA) system where the training activities were carried out, to the EBA support centers. We distributed baby kits, stationery supplies, food supplies, tablets and internet packages in areas where our offices are located.
During the pandemic period, there were beneficiaries who requested consultancy on health-related issues due to the hospitals being pandemic hospitals and the outpatient clinics to suspend the appointments. During this period, requests for hospital appointments continued intensely. Some of them were pregnant or women who had just given birth. During the pandemic, issues such as birth processes, newborn care and nutrition were the prominent topics in health counseling requests. In addition, there were many people who wanted to get counseling because they could not benefit from free health services because they did not have an identity card or were registered with another and lived in Istanbul.
With the increase of COVID-19 cases, many cases that came to the counseling line were followed by health consultants. The health counselor gave information about what can be done to recover and what quarantine should be applied, and followed the situation of these people. Apart from this, some beneficiaries who did not catch the COVID-19 virus but wanted to strengthen their immunity or did not want to go to the hospital also requested health counseling. The prominent topics among the requests made to the hotline were determined by the health consultant and information sessions were held on these issues. Many informative sessions such as what the smear test is, how it is done, and breast self-examination were organized by the health advisor.
We continue to provide psychological counseling support to support the well-being of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries, who had to spend more time at home with their family members due to the methods of protection against COVID-19, requested psychological counseling in order to talk about family relations and especially to communicate correctly with their children. With the opening of the schools, there has been an increase in the demands of children such as not being able to focus on the lessons in the home environment, the desire not to attend the classes and not feeling belonging to the school. In addition, the beneficiaries asked for activity suggestions for their children who were bored at home. During this period, there were many clients seeking counseling due to lack of anger control as a result of the increase in anxiety level along with the fear of being unemployed and insufficient financial resources. Another pillar of psychological counseling was the sessions with women who were subjected to violence or at risk of violence during the pandemic period.
The counseling we provide remotely through our Hotline continues intensively. We aim to find solutions to their problems and support them faster with the helpline, where beneficiaries can reach us free of charge. We look forward to the days when we will be face to face.