loveLife, South Africa’s largest national HIV prevention initiative, is now offering text-based counselling to South Africa’s youth on the mobile social network, Mxit.
This is part of loveLife’s strategy to expand access points and channels of support.
The app went live on 16 June 2013 to commemorate Youth Day and has 97 000 subscribers. In the first 10 days more than 5 000 subscribers engaged with counsellors, with almost 20 000 messages being exchanged.
Precious Magogodi, executive manager: call centre at loveLife, says, “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to connect with young people. Quite soon after launching the call centre, we introduced a ‘Please call me’ feature to ensure that even when people don’t have airtime they can still access a counsellor.
“We have also introduced our counselling persona ‘Mizz B’ who offers support and advice via a column in the Daily Sun, our Facebook page, and our Web site.”
loveLife noticed a decline in call volumes and on investigation realised that text messaging had become the most common way for young people to communicate.
“To remain relevant to our market, we needed to bring in a cost-effective text-based service,” says Magogodi. “After evaluating a number of solutions, we selected Mxit’s ‘Reach Live’ service.”
Reach Live is an easy-to-use cloud solution that allows organisations to set up a social exchange to simultaneously interact with a number of people via Mxit.
“Mxit was selected for a number of reasons. The technology has a strong track record with a number of other counselling services, such as Angel and Childline. In addition, it made the most economic sense for both our organisation and our users, and lastly, Mxit’s target market is a natural fit with our own,” says Magogodi.
Andrew Rudge, head of Mxit Reach, says: “It’s wonderful to see organisations such as loveLife embrace the power of chat-based counselling. The addition of HIV/Aids to the existing counselling options of Angel and Childline provides our Mxit audience with more ways to get help.
“While Mxit is primarily a communications and entertainment platform, we are very cognisant of the struggles and challenges our users face. Having organisations such as loveLife on our platform ensures that we can play a more meaningful role in improving the lives of our users.”
loveLife currently has four counsellors on Mxit but can strengthen this number up to 20 should the demand increase. The counsellors are available between 9am and 9pm on weekdays and from noon until 5pm on weekends.