Telecommunications industry and Samaritans' work leads to award shortlist

The Telecom Internet Federation (TiF) has been shortlisted for the Chambers Ireland ‘Excellence in Community - Partnership with Charity (LIC)’ award, for their work to make sure that the new Samaritans number - 116 123 - is free to all callers.

The nomination recognises the work of TiF and the six largest telecoms providers in Ireland - BT Ireland, eircom Group, O2, Three, UPC and Vodafone Ireland. This project has made it possible for people who are struggling to cope to access Samaritans’ service round the clock, every single day of the year, free of charge.

In 2007, the European Commission decided to reserve numbers beginning with 116 for services of social value that would be common across all EU member states and free to call. The number 116 123 was given for all 24 hour emotional support helplines. ComReg awarded Samaritans the 116 123 number as it was the only organisation in Ireland already meeting and exceeding all of the minimum standards for these services.

A partnership with the telecommunications industry brought together by TiF means that the costs of calls to the new number are covered by the telecoms operators. Before this, Samaritans operated a lo-call 1850 number. The partnership has also supported the technical implementation of the new number.

The support of the telecoms industry has allowed Samaritans to concentrate on developing the infrastructure required to operate the new free to call number. The number was piloted in 2013 before being officially launched on 25 March 2014. Since the launch, Samaritans have seen a 40 per cent increase in calls made to the helpline.

Catherine Brogan, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland said, “The support of TiF and the telecommunications industry has been crucial. We believe that knowing that a call is free of charge has encouraged more people to contact our vital service.

“This partnership with the industry has allowed us to concentrate on responding to this increase in demand, making sure that we are here for anyone who needs us. It is really positive to see the industry coming together to support our callers. ”

Samaritans would like to wish TiF the best of luck with their nomination. The awards take place this Thursday (18 September) in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin 4.

Related information:

Notes to Editor

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123 (ROI) or 08457 90 90 90 (NI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.

More information on the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards is available here http://www.chambers.ie/events/corporate-social-responsibility-awards/

For further information:

Rachel Wright Policy & Communications Officer, Samaritans Ireland 01 6710071/ 085 860 5554 R.wright@samartians.org

24 Hour Telephone Helplines:
116 123 (ROI)
08457 90 90 90 (NI)

24 Hour Email Helpline

jo@samaritans.org