Top of page

Helpline confidentiality policy

This confidentiality agreement exists between all users of our helpline, email and Live Chat services and the Helpline Service as a whole.

We take confidentiality very seriously and aim to create a trusting relationship between service users and helpline staff.

Personal details are not shared with third parties unless consent has been given, and only on a ‘need to know’ basis.

Exceptions to this are detailed below and are made only where there is a potential risk to the individual or others and/or where required by law.

Objectives of the confidentiality policy

  • to protect the personal information of those who contact us
  • to provide a service where people feel able to speak openly about their concerns, knowing that the information is kept private
  • to ensure the protection of service users, staff and the general public
  • to ensure that the helpline adheres to the Data Protection Act and the GDPR
  • to ensure that helpline staff understand and adhere to the policy.

The confidentiality policy in practice

  1. Caller information is retained for the purpose of returning calls or sending out requested literature. This information is kept on a secure electronic database. Any handwritten information is confidentially shredded.
  2. Callers to the helpline are free to speak to staff anonymously.
  3. Our telephone system may reveal the caller’s telephone number. If helpline staff need to return a call the helpline telephone number will be withheld. Please note that if an individual has chosen to bar anonymous or withheld numbers then we will not be able to return calls.
  4. We do not pass on caller details outside of the charity unless this has been agreed with the caller. Where calls relate to other areas of the charity, we will pass on contact details. Voicemail messages or emails for specific members of staff or departments will be forwarded to the relevant person. Clear consent is not sought in these cases but is automatically presumed due to the nature of the enquiry.
  5. Email correspondence is kept securely and electronically and will be forwarded only where necessary. For example, a fundraising query will be forwarded to the fundraising team. Emails are stored electronically for 24 months for training, evaluation and in case of query.
  6. Live Chat transcripts are stored electronically for 24 months for training, evaluation and and in case of query. In most cases the helpline staff are able to see the geographical area of the service user and also any previous Live Chats.
  7. Anonymised statistical information relating to contact with helpline services is collected and used for statistical and monitoring managerial purposes and may be shared.

Exceptions when confidentiality may be broken

  1. An individual is perceived as a serious and immediate risk to themselves by helpline staff. This may include being actively suicidal or self-harming.
  2. An individual is considered to be in a potentially life-threatening situation due to accident or injury.
  3. An individual is perceived as presenting a serious and immediate risk to others.
  4. A call, email or Live Chat which seems to indicate abuse of any kind to children or vulnerable adults.
  5. A call, email or Live Chat which indicates possible terrorist action.
  6. When an individual threatens helpline staff or tries to prevent the helpline being used effectively to support others.
  7. Where there is concern for the health and safety of members of the helpline team.

Where staff believe that confidentiality needs to be broken, a decision will be taken by the Education and Support Services Manager and Senior Management team in line with helpline policy.

Responsibilities of the helpline staff

The Education and Support Services Manager will ensure that all staff are sufficiently trained to fully understand the scope of this policy and how to implement it in practice.

Responsibilities of helpline users

People who use our services must take responsibility for the information they divulge.

People who use our services should ensure that they are happy with the content of this policy and raise any questions they may have with the Education and Support Services Manager.

Contact the helpline

Call free on 0808 808 5555 (Monday-Friday: 10am-3pm), use Live Chat via the website, or email