Helplines Network NI launch new website
Helplines Network NI is a membership–led organisation consisting of over 20 different helplines operating across Northern Ireland. The Network members provide a variety of vital support services including information, advice, counselling, a listening ear and befriending, covering a wide range of needs and issues. The website www.helplinesnetworkni.com offers a single point of access to the various helpline numbers and websites, where people can find the right helpline to suit their needs.
The diversity of helplines currently operating in Northern Ireland reflects the growing complex needs of our society. Over a quarter of a million (274, 865) calls were answered and support given by the helplines Network NI members in 2013/14. This clearly demonstrates the growing demand for these services. Many helplines operate on the frontline, in some cases, saving lives, supporting not only individuals, but also families through the toughest of times. Member Helplines are run by public, voluntary and community organisations and are non-profit making.
Colin Flinn, Chair of Helpline Network NI said:
“Helplines can provide critical information, advice and support at an early stage of a crisis or problem being faced by people. Those who call a helpline will be treated in a non-judgemental way. Many, but not all member helplines offer a free-phone service, some also offer help via email, text and web-chat, some operate out-of-hours and people can contact helplines in the privacy of their home. All of these factors play a key part in encouraging people to reach out for support when they need it most.
“We believe helplines complement the work of government departments and ultimately are a cost effective use of public money because we can provide that early support and guidance when it is needed most.”
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of Public Health Agency said:
“The Helpline Network NI was established in February 2013 by the PHA to promote efficiency, effectiveness and a forum to share good practice and encourage collaborative working. Today’s launch is evidence that network members are showing leadership in ensuring telephone helplines are focused on supporting the service user.”
Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon said:
“It is important when people need help they know where they can turn. The Helplines Network NI website will provide a vital information point to find support for various issues, sign-posting people to the telephone numbers and services they need. I would like to pay particular tribute, to the many volunteers who work on the various helplines across Northern Ireland, without whom, many helplines could not function. Their commitment and compassion serves as another example of the contribution of Unsung Heroes to our society and citizens in need.”
The Helplines Network NI website and information leaflet raise awareness of the range of helplines and will sign-post the public, health professionals, communities and the media to the various support services that exist.
As a group, the Helplines Network NI meet quarterly and share best practice and knowledge of how each helpline can support people. Sharing best practice is especially useful for the smaller helplines which may have less resources. It is hoped more helplines will join the group and website in the future, to further reflect the growing diversity and needs in our society.
Visit www.helplinesnetworkni.com for further information and contact details of the members.