Helplines Partnership provides strength in quality provision for helplines

Helplines Partnership rebrands to enforce its representation of the helplines sector across the UK and internationally, following the merger of Mental Health Helplines Partnership (mhhp), The Helplines Association (THA) and ICIS : information for life.

Many of our member helplines were established as far back as the 1970s – some even began operating in the1950s.  Since then helplines have increased in number, variety, and  non face to face channels (such as telephone, email, SMS, social networking and instant messaging).  The number and diversity of helplines led to the establishment of THA in 1996 as an umbrella organisation, to raise standards and promote training across the helpline sector.

mhhp was formed in 2003 by the Department of Health (DH) as a response to the need identified by NHS Direct to improve access to health services around-the-clock. Mental health calls are often longer than other calls, .  The DH acknowledged the need to be able to refer callers to specialist, quality, mental health helplines workers in the voluntary and community sector and funded the creation of mhhp.

ICIS started as a helpline for people with disabilities, and has diversified to provide a range of information portals to enable individuals and organisations easily find help and support. Operating since 1994 ICIS develops electronic directories, information portals and websites devoted to the needs of specific client groups.

Collectively our experience underpins helpline service improvements our coming together has enabled us to harness the best of capabilities while creating operational and service delivery efficiencies.

Theodore Spyrou, Chief Executive said “Our ambition is to empower people by achieving excellence in helpline provision, increase recognition of helplines and their value and ensure sustainability for the sector.  If you run or are considering setting up a helpline we are the sector leaders that can support you with advice on quality, training, technology, fundraising, policy and information.”

Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive of Anxiety UK said: “The voluntary sector plays a vital role in supporting people with a wide range of physical and mental health concerns and worries, supplementing and supporting the work done by the NHS. At Anxiety UK we really value the support of the Helplines Partnership in assisting us with the provision of this essential service to people with anxiety disorders.”

Jane Futrell, Head of Communications at Meningitis Research Foundation helpline said “We have been working with THA for over 15 years and have found their assistance invaluable. They helped us reconfigure our helpline to a charitable freephone number, they promote best practice – especially important as our support now includes emails and social networking– and enable us to have our staff properly trained. They also enable us to link up with other helplines and keep us up-to-date on changes in health services and provision and we are really looking forward to working with them as Helplines Partnership”.