Samaritans free to caller helpline number FAQs

Earlier this year we launched our free telephone number, 116 123. Find out the answers to commonly asked questions relating to our free helpline.

Frequently asked questions and answers relating to our free to call helpline

Has Samaritans’ UK helpline number changed?

Yes. In September 2015, we launched a new UK helpline number, 116 123, which is free to call from within the UK and Ireland. The new number replaces our old UK helpline number, 08457 90 90 90.

Is the number free to call from mobile phones too?

This number is free to call from both landlines and mobiles, including pay-as-you-go mobiles

Will the new number show up on my phone bill?

The 116 123 number does not show up on phone bills, which means our callers will not have to worry that other members of their household might notice our number on the bill.

Are you still offering the same service?

Samaritans is still offering exactly the same service to callers as we did before. People who are going through a difficult time will be able to access the service round the clock, every single day of the year. But now, you will be able to do this without paying for the phone call.

Can I still call my local Samaritans branch directly?

Yes, Samaritans branches still have their own phone numbers, but local call charges still apply for these numbers. You can find the telephone number of your nearest Samaritans branch here

Can I contact Samaritans in other ways?

You can also get in touch with Samaritans by emailing jo@samaritans.org

or by post to: Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA

What happens if I call the old Samaritans UK helpline number?

If you call Samaritans’ old UK helpline number (08457 90 90 90), you will hear a message telling you that you can call us free of charge on 116 123:

We hope that most people will call back on the new free number, but if you choose to stay on the line you will still be connected to a Samaritans volunteer, although you will be charged for this call.

Why have you put a message on your old helpline number?

We needed to let our callers know that they can now call us for free, and putting a message on the old helpline means that we are able to share the news with everyone who calls us on that number. Unfortunately, we cannot automatically transfer calls from our old helpline number to 116 123, as you would still be charged for the call.

Will the launch of the free number make it more difficult for callers to get through?

We have a new, improved telephone system, so we know we can cope with an increase in calls to our helpline. We are also monitoring how many people call us at different times of the day and night to make sure that we have enough volunteers available at the right times.

Why did you choose the number 116 123?

Our number, 116 123, is allocated across the European Union to helplines that offer emotional support.

The number was reserved by the European Commission. They decided that certain services of social value should have the same memorable telephone number in all member states. These numbers are 6 digits, start with code 116, and must be free to call. The number 116 123 was reserved for emotional support helplines. It was awarded to Samaritans by Ofcom in the UK and by Comreg in the Republic of Ireland.

Why does my landline phone restrict calls to Samaritans’ 116 123?

We have had confirmation from all UK mobile phone networks and telephone providers that Samaritans’ 116 123 number is available and free to call from landline and mobile phones.

However, some offices, care homes and other organisations have restrictions on the types of numbers that can be dialled; something which is outside of our control. This means that if you try to dial an unusual number, such as 116 123, from an office phone, you might get a busy tone or message saying that it is an unrecognised number.

How do I call Samaritans if my phone is restricted?

If you’re unable to change the settings of your phone system so that Samaritans’ 116 123 number can be dialled, you can also call 116 123 for free from any UK mobile. Another option is to call your local Samaritans branch instead (local call charges will apply). You can find the telephone number of your nearest Samaritans branch here

Why was 116 123 launched in Ireland first?

Thanks to a partnership with the Irish telecommunications industry and Government, we were able to launch 116 123 as our free helpline number in Ireland in March 2014.

Ever since then, we have been working hard to find a way to extend this free service to the UK. With generous support from the Big Lottery Fund and help from Vodafone and other telecommunications companies, Ofcom and the Department of Health, we were delighted to launch 116 123 as our UK helpline number in September 2015.