Are you the only accrediting body?
Yes, Helplines Partnership is the only accrediting body specifically assessing the helpline sector.
How long does the process take?
It usually takes between three and six months to gather and submit the evidence. Once you’ve done that, we aim to have your assessment visit done and report to you a month afterwards.
What does it cover?
The Standard covers everything from your mission and aims to the day-to-day running of your helpline service.
What’s in the Helplines Standard workbook?
The Standard is divided into three sections:
- Planning and running your helpline
- The service you provide
- Recruitment, training and development
The individual criteria you need to supply evidence for are detailed within each section, and there is comprehensive advice and guidance for each one.
Do I need to answer every criterion?
There may be some criteria that are not relevant to your helpline service, so you might not need to provide evidence for every one. You will be expected to explain why a particular criterion is not applicable.
Is it relevant for information and advice services?
The Standard is relevant for any service which is provided on a helpline-based model – this doesn’t necessarily mean emotional support, although it is of course relevant for this too. It places emphasis on treating service users fairly and empathetically, whether giving medical advice, general information or emotional support.
Is it just for phone helplines or others too?
The Standard covers phone, email, instant message, text (SMS) message, online forums and social media.
Who else has the Helplines Standard?
A diverse range of organisations recognise the value of being accredited to the Helplines Standard such as NSPCC and Missing People. No matter the size of your helpline, where you are located or your helpline's remit - your organisation can benefit from achieving the Standard.
Is it just for UK services?
The Standard is designed to cover legislation appropriate to your service, no matter what subject you cover or what legislation is applicable to you. Currently the Standard is held by organisations in England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Do I have to come to a workshop?
No, it’s not obligatory but we would strongly advise you to attend a free workshop, especially if you haven’t been through this process before.
Does the assessment include mystery shopping?
No, we do not carry out ‘mystery shop’ or test contacts as a part of the assessment. The assessor may ring the service to check that the out-of-hours message is what you have said it is, but will never pretend to be a genuine service user.
Who gets awarded the Standard?
The Standard is awarded to your helpline service, so if you are part of a wider organisation it is awarded to the helpline rather than the whole organisation.
How much will it cost?
If you are a Helplines Partnership member, you are entitled to 40% off our standard rates. Assessment fees are from £2,675 (+VAT) for members.