Annual Conference 2019

The 2019 Helplines Partnership AGM, Annual Conference and Awards will take place on Wednesday 6 November at Crowne Plaza, Central Square, Holliday Street, Birmingham B1 1HH.


The theme this year is: Strength in Numbers

Download the Conference flyer with details of all our speakers and seminar sessions.

Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to announce this year's Keynote Speaker: RYAN HART

Read more about Ryan's story in the Speakers and Presenters section at the end of this page.


We want to recognise and celebrate the amazing work that helplines, their staff and volunteers do providing information, support and advice to improve people's lives.

The Helpline Awards, now in their sixth year, are an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on excellence at an individual and organisational level.

Nominations for this year's awards are now closed.

Find out more about the 2019 Helpline Awards.

Conference 2018

If you weren't able to make last year's Conference you can find out what you missed and watch a short video of the day.

How do I book?

You need to register on our website prior to booking and if you have already registered you can go straight to booking.

Book your place

Interested in becoming a sponsor?

Becoming a sponsor for the event will raise the credibility and visibility of your organisation. It enables you to demonstrate corporate social responsibility within a sector committed to providing support to millions of individuals. Our sponsorship packages are flexible to fit all budgets.

HLP Conference Sponsorship 2019

Speakers and Presenters

Keynote Speaker: RYAN HART

(Challenging male violence against women and children. White Ribbon Ambassador and Refuge Champion)

On 19 July 2016, Claire and Charlotte Hart were murdered in broad daylight, by the family’s father using a sawn-off shotgun. He then committed suicide.

Luke and Ryan Hart, the two surviving sons, now openly share their story to raise awareness of coercive and controlling behaviour. So far, they have trained police officers, police community support officers, NHS personnel and legal professionals in the Crown Prosecution Service. They are White Ribbon Ambassadors and Refuge Champions speaking out against male violence towards women and children. They have released their book Remembered Forever, telling their story and challenging myths and stereotypes surrounding domestic abuse and coercive control.

Read more about the brother’s story and their work here.

Headline Speaker: NICK THOMPSON

(CEO, The Phone Co-op)

Nick has over 15 years’ experience in telecoms, including executive leadership experience with KCOM, where he led the Hull based KC business and Gradwell where he was CEO.

Additionally, Nick has been involved in Sports Management, leading Hull City across the 2012/13 & 2013/14 seasons and he built strong links with supporter groups, introducing the Fan Liaison and Advisory Group, which he retains to this day.

A highly commercial and strategically astute Chief Executive, Nick has specific strengths in growing sales and profitably in tandem with building strong customer and member relationships. Married with three children and two grandchildren he is an avid reader, usually at least four books on the go, a football fanatic and a movie buff.

Member Showcase Speaker: DIANE JAMES

(Helpline Manager, Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Services – PBSS)

The PBSS is 25 years old this year and the freephone support line is very important to the team. Diane James is the Manager of the service which is for anyone who has suffered any type of loss of a beloved pet.

Over the past few years, there has been a massive increase in calls and emails to the service. The PBSS has diversified and now offers training and an accredited award winning e-learning course.

Diane also appears on national television and radio including ITV This Morning, BBC Breakfast, local and national news, Radio 4 Today, 5 Live, Talk radio and many other radio stations.

Diane has also written pet loss topics for the national daily press and magazines and talks at conferences on the topic of pet bereavement.

Diane has 2 dogs Hero and Chester, a daughter, Lucy, and a husband with a lot of patience, as even when on holiday, Diane will do radio interviews (from the car) or go and visit the local animal rescue centre.

Panel Speaker: KEITH JONES (BBC Actionline)

Keith is Head of Editorial and Complaints at BBC Audience Services and responsible for a range of support services for viewers and listeners, including the BBC’s Action Lines.

The Action Lines are often trailed on-air and provide details of organisations willing to offer information or advice off-air for people affected by some of the issues covered in programmes.

Keith’s team also provide support for users of iPlayer and Sounds, and run the BBC’s feedback, enquiries and complaints service.

Keith began his professional life making in-flight entertainment for airlines and then became a producer and editor, making programmes for Radio 4 for many years.

Panel Speaker: CAROLINE HOWE (Lloyds Bank Foundation)

Caroline is Policy and National Programmes Manager for Lloyds Bank Foundation and joined in January 2015 to support development of the Foundation’s policy work and national programmes.

Built on the experiences of the 700+ charities the Foundation funds across England and Wales, Caroline looks for opportunities to champion small and local charities, push for change on issues that affect the sector and support small and local charities to influence change.

She has developed national programmes in the domestic abuse, sexual violence and criminal justice sectors and works with Lloyds Banking Group to explore how their services can best support people facing complex social issues.

Panel Speaker: CHLOE MORTON (The Mix)

Chlöe is Director of Services for a digital youth charity called The Mix, which reaches over 3 million young people a year. In this role Chlöe oversees all support and youth engagement work, which includes a multi-channel helpline (telephone, webchat and email) as well as introducing a crisis text service and chat bots to support with issues such as consent and domestic abuse.

Chlöe studied and lectured in Psychology and has over 15 years experience of developing and managing on and offline support services in areas such as mental health, bullying and housing. She is a Clore Social Fellow, has been a volunteer with The Samaritans for over 13 years and is an advocate of challenging mental health stigma.

Seminar 1 - RUTH ROBERTSON (The King's Fund)

“Making the numbers count: A simple guide to NHS commissioning and the long-term plan”

Ruth is a Senior Fellow and works in the policy team at The King’s Fund where she leads research projects on a wide range of NHS policy issues. Recently, these have included the development of clinical commissioning groups, the quest to get better value from the NHS budget and the impact of NHS financial pressures on patients.

Before joining The King’s Fund in 2013, Ruth spent three years at the Commonwealth Fund in New York researching the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the uninsured. Earlier in her career Ruth worked at the Commission for Health Improvement (a predecessor to the Care Quality Commission) and as a medical secretary at various NHS trusts.

Seminar 2 - STEVE HAWKES (The Developer Society)

“Improving your helpline tech”

Steve is a founder and the Managing Director of The Developer Society, a fully not for profit co-op digital agency working exclusively with charities and NGOs. Steve’s passion is for developing technology that helps change-makers deliver impact.

Seminar 3 - STELLA COMBER and ALEX HARVEY (Grassroots Suicide Prevention)

“Reducing the numbers – Real Talk – Suicide prevention awareness”

Stella Comber is Chief Executive of Grassroots Suicide Prevention, a Brighton based charity with a simple but powerful goal: that no one should have to contemplate suicide alone. Our community led approach provides awareness raising, training and consultancy. Working from our strong local base we have developed innovative campaigns and products with a truly national impact. Stella says: “My interest in mental health and suicide prevention has developed through my personal and professional experience, and a deep commitment to recognising the powerful role of lived experience in emerging thought and practice.”

Alex Harvey is Head of Development for Grassroots Suicide Prevention, having worked for the charity for close to 10 years. Since its formation in 2006 the charity has grown from its foundations in training provision, to delivering a range of awareness raising projects and digital tools, including the award-winning Stay Alive suicide prevention smartphone app. Alex says: “It’s been a privilege to contribute to these exciting developments, and to grow with the charity, working to prevent suicide in our communities.”

Seminar 4 - SARAH MERRINGTON (Association of Volunteer Managers)

“Volunteer vacancies: risky recruitment or successful succession?”

Sarah is Deputy Director for Volunteering at CPRE (Campaign for Protection of Rural England) and a volunteer Board Director for the Association of Volunteer Managers.

Sarah has over 18 years experience in project, event and volunteer management with her main area of expertise is in managing and delivering programmes that promote and engage people in positive health and environmental behaviours.

She has developed programmes across a range of different settings and population groups within local communities, schools and youth groups, workplaces and higher education.

She has run UK-wide mentoring and volunteering programmes and written organisation volunteer strategies. Recently she brought together 40 organisations to discuss group volunteering and the future of committee structures.

Sarah is absolutely passionate about volunteering and does so herself on the Board of Directors for the Association of Volunteer Managers and in her local community choir. She believes in the power of bringing volunteer professionals together to innovate and change the landscape through collaboration.

Seminar 5 - HEATHER MCLOUGHLIN (Charities Aid Foundation)

“A strategic approach to fundraising – making the numbers add up”

Heather is a Charity Advisor for the Charities Aid Foundation and delivers advisory work with charities across the UK to help build charity’s resilience. Heather’s particular areas of focus are advising charities on issues related to governance, strategy and fundraising.

Heather has a background in policy in the third sector. She has a background of supporting charities to understand complex government and Charity Commission regulation and policies. She has advised charities with developing policies and strategies around issues like finance, Gift Aid, GDPR and fraud.

Seminar 6 - MEGA ARUMUGAM (Helplines Partnership)

“Measuring outcomes”

Mega is a Trainer and Assessor at Helplines Partnership. She has worked for over 10 years in the voluntary sector, namely within the domestic and sexual violence and abuse field and also has experience in volunteer management.

Mega has managed, developed and led the specialist domestic and sexual violence helpline and crisis intervention teams. Mega is a professional and accredited trainer, specialising in designing and delivering domestic and sexual abuse, stalking and harassment, honour-based violence and child sexual exploitation training.

Mega is also a telephone befriending volunteer for a national organisation supporting Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE). In her current role, Mega is using her experience within the helpline and voluntary sector to support helpline services in development, training and achieving the Helplines Standard accreditation.


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