Looking back on 2018's Annual Conference

Annika Howard
Helplines Partnership Annual Conference 2018

If you missed the 2018 Annual Conference, you can watch this short video to get a real flavour of the event. It features interviews with Paula Ojok, our Chief Executive, Anne-Marie Sabaroche from Family Rights Group, Karen Millard from SAIL and Maureen Sneddon from Citizens Advice Scotland.

The theme of the event, which took place on Wednesday 14 November, in London, was ‘Helplines – Why, What and How?’, focusing on practical tools, hints and inspiration for delegates to take away from the day and use on their helpline.



Delegates heard from an expert panel of speakers about how helplines can use digital technology to engage service users. NAVCA’s Tom Watson talked about the benefits of working with cloud-based technologies and how it has changed the way NAVCA works. Simon Stewart from Samaritans shared their experiences of developing an online chat service to complement their helpline. Dr Simon Davey from Omega Alpha Ltd considered the opportunities and capabilities of digital for helplines.


in 2018, we had a choice of four seminars. Each seminar focused on topics that are fundamental to running a sustainable helpline service.

  • Shaun Delaney, Volunteering and Development Manager, at NCVO got people talking about ‘Volunteering – Why, What and How’.
  • Mega Arumugam’s seminar ‘Why helpline worker supervision is important’ was a popular choice with delegates.
  • Dan Q, from Three Rings, talked about how to schedule effective helpline rotas.
  • Rachael Wyartt’s seminar ‘How to manage and end calls’ addressed the challenge many helplines face of calls that are not within their remit and emotional or abusive callers.


Steve Stockley, Helpline Manager at our member, Fosterline, spoke movingly about his experience as a foster carer and his career and experiences at Fosterline.


The day was brought to a close with a funny and inspiring keynote address from comedian, speaker, actress and writer Francesca Martinez who gave the audience five ideas to take away: No human being is defined by how our bodies work. Stop comparing yourself to others. Accept yourself. Without challenges we wouldn’t grow. Embrace your own unique selves.


  • “What a day! @chessmartinez crushed it with her keynote address, and my cold dead heart was thoroughly defrosted by the stories shared by Steve @FosterlineGov from whom we could learn a lot.”
  • “A fantastic day today rounded off by an inspirational speech by Francesca Martinez. Thank you to all of the amazing Helplines that we’ve met and for the incredible work you are all doing.”
  • “We had an inspiring day at the Helplines Partnership Annual Conference yesterday. Some really interesting and insightful discussions took place.”

Thank you to all our speakers, seminar hosts and delegates who created a real buzz at the event. Thank you too to Equality and Human Rights Commission and their EHRC Adviser Support Helpline who attended the 2018 Conference.


We would love to hear from you if you are interested in being a guest speaker, hosting a seminar or becoming a sponsor. In 2019 we'll be in Birmingham on Wednesday 6 November.

Book your place.

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