Why Helplines and What to Expect

A call to a helpline can give you immediate support and access to information without having to make an appointment or travel to an office.  You don’t have to give your real name or contact details.  Making the call is usually the first step in addressing a problem.

There are many reasons why people call a helpline and no problem is too big or too small.  People call helplines for a number of reasons such as

  • feeling overwhelmed
  • feeling lonely
  • mental illness
  • understanding their rights
  • finding help locally and nationally

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone, many helplines provide alternative ways to seek help from email, messenger, text and post.  Many will also have BSL and other specific options.

If you call a helpline and they can’t help with your specific enquiry they can direct you to other organisations and services that can help you.

What happens first?
When you call a helpline, you may hear a pre-recorded message about the service you’ve called. Depending on the time of day and the type of helpline, you might have to wait a few minutes until an operator is available.  You may need to leave a message when someone will return your call.  If it is an urgent call, keep trying but if you leave a message highlight the urgency and reason.

Who will answer my call?
Usually operators will have experience and training on the subject of their helpline and have experience of dealing with people with a range of issues.

What will they ask me?
You will usually be asked questions about your situation to better understand what you need. You don’t have to give your real name, nor provide your address or any other information that can identify you.

How can they help?
The operator will listen to your problem carefully. They may help you to work out possible solutions. Or they might tell you about services near you that know more about your particular issue or could provide long-term help.

Some problems require more assistance than a helpline can provide. Telephone operators will usually be able to refer you to other services if appropriate.