Helplines Awareness Day highlights the importance of telephone support services in NI

Robbie Butler MLA, Clodagh Crowe, Claire O'Prey at the launch of Helplines Awareness Day on March 20Robbie Butler MLA, Clodagh Crowe, Claire O'Prey at the launch of Helplines Awareness Day on March 20
Robbie Butler MLA, Clodagh Crowe, Claire O'Prey at the launch of Helplines Awareness Day on March 20
Helplines NI, a network of telephone and online support services funded by the Public Health Agency, will host its eighth annual Helplines Awareness Day on March 20.

The aim of the day is to shine a light on the important services provided by helplines across Northern Ireland, signalled by the near 600,000 calls made to Helplines NI’s 40 members in 2023.

To mark the day, Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Robbie Butler MLA, will take part in a panel discussion focusing on the challenges facing the helpline sector at The Duncairn, Belfast. Ahead of the event, he met with Helplines NI at Parliament Buildings, and commended the ongoing efforts of telephone helpline services in supporting people in need, whilst also acknowledging that households across Northern Ireland are facing a growing number of complex challenges.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said; “It’s very important we shine a light on our telephone support services ahead of and on Helplines Awareness Day, to recognise the important role helplines play in Northern Ireland, especially as people face increasingly complex emotional, physical and financial challenges.

"The Helplines NI network is a wonderful example of collaboration at its best, and I’m pleased that the network continues to grow and now has 40 members, all working together to help people get the support they need, when they need it. I commend these organisations for taking more than half a million calls last year – calls that can often bring marked change to a person’s life.”

Deloitte recently released its ‘State of State 2024’ report which revealed that public worries about health and social care have grown since 2023, largely fuelled by long NHS waiting lists and an inability to access services.

Clodagh Crowe, co-chair of Helplines NI, and head of Development and Strategic Engagement at Rural Support said telephone helpline services are a lifeline for people in this current climate.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: “Our members provide a listening ear and emotional support, but also practical advice, and they signpost to other organisations. They do incredible work, but it should be noted that they too are feeling the pressure with operational costs are on the rise, and funding streams negatively impacted by ongoing cuts and fundraising challenges.”

Helplines NI not only advocates for an improved landscape for helpline services, it also improves efficiencies for people in need. Member organisations which include NSPCC Parenting Focus, Advice NI and Samaritans, are all briefed on the services offered by each other.

If a person calls a helpline that may not be best suited to their needs, they are efficiently directed to the most-appropriate service reducing the amount of time they wait for help and improving their experience.

Claire O’Prey, co-chair at Helplines NI and interim assistant service manager at Lifeline, highlighted how important it is that people in need are encouraged to seek support.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: “Nobody should suffer in silence. This Helplines Awareness Day will serve as an important reminder to people that telephone support services are available, and people are trained to listen and provide the right advice.”

Helplines Awareness Day takes place on March 20 and aims to highlight the important work of telephone helpline services. All of the organisations that are part of the Helplines NI network provide confidential support via telephone, email, text, and in some cases live webchat.

For a full list of members, and for more information visit

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.