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Our Safeguarding Helpline which can be contacted on 0303 003 11 11 is open to anyone and provides a free source of advice and support for all safeguarding related concerns. We also run a Disclosure Helpline for our DBS users to answer questions on all matters relating to processing DBS checks. Both helplines form part our complete safeguarding solution for churches, charities,
and faith-based organisations.

This autumn we were delighted to be awarded the national quality standard for ‘outstanding’ helpline provision in the same month that we celebrated 30 years of continuous service by our Safeguarding Helpline. This national accreditation has been awarded by Helplines Partnership (the National body for helpline providers) and has been specifically developed for the helpline sector to recognise excellence and best practice in service delivery.

During the last 30 years, our Safeguarding Helpline has hugely developed both in terms of its scope, and the number of calls it receives. Since 1990 it has been a lifeline for people answering questions or to provide advice on issues ranging from drafting a safeguarding policy, to responding to a case of abuse. In that time our dedicated and experienced team of Safeguarding professionals have answered over 140,000 calls. From receiving approximately 50 calls a month in its earliest years when awareness of safeguarding was relatively low, it now regularly receives over 600 calls a month and this figure is increasing year on year.

Building on the success of our Safeguarding Helpline and following the launch of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in 2002, we launched our Disclosure Helpline, which now receives around 500 calls each week. In a recent survey of our members our helplines were voted our second most relevant service next to DBS checks, with over a half our members saying they had called our helplines at least once in the previous 12 months.

“It is a huge privilege for us to be awarded this national accreditation which reflects the high level of service that we aspire to” says Barbara Ball, our Head of Advisory Services.

“We work hard to ensure the independent advice we give is always of the highest quality, so to be in this way is testament to all the hard work put in by many people over the years. We are especially delighted that we should receive this award as we celebrate this important milestone in our organisation’s history.”

During the pandemic, our helplines have remained open to advise and support churches and charities. Two issues that have been raised more than any other have been: how to communicate safely with children and young people online; and, how to deliver essentials safely to adults that are self-isolating or shielding and whether these adults are classed as having care and support needs. Additionally, we’ve seen a rise in calls around mental health issues, domestic abuse and how churches can help people with anxiety.

Answering the calls are our team of committed Christian safeguarding professionals with backgrounds in social work, education and the police. As one caller recently said: ‘Knowing you can pick up the phone and get access to a dedicated team of professional safeguarding advisors, who understand the specialist context in which you are working, is hugely significant for us.’

Thirtyone:eight has also recently been commissioned to provide dedicated Helplines for several high-profile cases and reviews, offering an independent source of help and advice to anyone who may have been affected.

The Helplines Standard identifies the practices that enable an organisation to deliver a helpline service which is ‘consistent, relevant to the needs of its stakeholders and effective in what it is trying to achieve’. In granting the award, Helplines Partnership said:

“It was clear that the Thirtyone:eight helpline is strongly focused on meeting the needs of its callers. From observations and discussions undertaken during the assessment, the commitment to delivering an effective high-quality service was strongly evident. Helplines Partnership would like to congratulate those involved.”

Justin Humphreys, our joint-Chief Executive said “We are extremely proud that both our Safeguarding Helpline and our Disclosure Helpline have been recognised in this way as it demonstrates the high value we place on the people that call us and on the advice we give.

We know what a difference it can make to the people that call who may be grappling with very distressing and complicated issues often for the first time. While we provide this service free of charge at the point of delivery, it costs the charity £32 on average to respond to each call to our Safeguarding Helpline, so we remain grateful for any donations we receive that allow us to keep this service open to all who need it.”

The Helplines standard was awarded by Helplines Partnership and lasts for three years.

To find out more about our helpline and how we could help you go to: thirtyoneeight.org/helpline

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