The value of helplines will be emphasised on 6 February the first Northern Ireland Helplines Awareness Day.
The Helplines Network NI is hosting the awareness day and an event at Belfast City Hall to highlight the extensive range of helplines providing vital support, advice and information to the public across Northern Ireland.
Helplines Network NI is membership-led and includes 26 member organisations delivering 30 helplines.
Clodagh Crowe, Chair of the Helplines Network NI, said: “The helpline members provide a variety of vital support services including information, advice, counselling, a listening ear and befriending, covering a wide range of issues and needs.
“Last year, in Northern Ireland, helplines involved with the network responded to over 700,000 calls and web-based contacts. Many of the services operate over the phone, but some helplines provide support via email, text and in some cases with live web-chat.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston, said: “I’m really pleased to host this event for the Helplines Network to raise awareness of the valuable and wide range of support offered by helplines based in Northern Ireland. The theme I’ve chosen for my term of office is ‘putting citizens first’ and it’s so important when people are facing difficulties that they know that they can reach out for help.”
The Public Health Agency established the Helplines Network NI in 2013 in collaboration with a number of helplines to promote effectiveness, efficiency and a forum for helplines to share good practice and encourage partnership working.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the PHA, said: “Helplines are a critical resource for health and wellbeing. They are confidential, non-judgemental and accessible sources of information, advice and support. Helplines empower people to make choices and decisions on many aspects of their lives. We would encourage anyone who feels that they need help and support to find out more about the range of services that are on offer.”
Anna Lo said helplines are an invaluable resource to everyone in Northern Ireland. “I have personally benefitted from the support available via a helpline. At that particular point in time I did not have anyone else to call and being able to speak to someone in confidence who understood what I was going through really helped me."
The Helplines Network NI website provides a single point of access to NI Helplines telephone numbers and websites. For further information visit www.helplinesnetworkni.com