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Project information

The National Domestic Violence Helpline

For abused women living in fear and isolation, calling the National Domestic Violence Helpline is their first step in accessing support to escape domestic abuse. The Helpline is a 24hr service and provides practical information, emotional support, and referral into safe emergency accommodation.

Ongoing project

Charity information: Women’s Aid Federation of England

Women’s Aid Federation of England logo
  • Need


    Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and claims the lives of 2 women per week in England and Wales. As well as harming the person being abused it can also impact on the physical and emotional health of their children. Leaving an abusive relationship can be very difficult, and may lead to an escalation of abuse. It is therefore vital that victims of domestic abuse can access support whenever they need it. However they often become cut off from friends, family and the community due to the abuse.


    The Helpline provides a lifeline for women and children in crisis; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Helpline provides free and confidential information and support to enable women experiencing domestic violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe. It also offers emotional support to empower women to take steps to break free from abuse, and provides a referral service to a nationwide network of face-to-face support services and safe emergency accommodation.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide support to victims of domestic violence that is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


    » Provide a freephone telephone helpline, with sufficient lines and staffing to answer calls received at any time of the day or night.
    » For calls that can’t be answered due to demand, provide signposting to alternative sources of support and the option to leave a message for call back.
    » Ensure that the service is accessible to all, by providing TypeTalk for callers who are deaf or hearing-impaired a translation service and help online
    » Provide online information to supplement the Helpline service through a website: www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

    What success will look like

    Success will be 75% of calls are answered either directly by a Helpline worker or are quickly called back, in the year April 2013 – Mar 2014.

    Aim 2

    Inform victims of domestic violence about their options, rights, and the support available to them.


    » Ensure that staff and volunteers answering calls have received a broad range of training to enable them to provide suitable information and support.
    » Ensure that staff and volunteers attend refresher courses on issues such as legal, housing and welfare rights, child protection and immigration law.
    » Carry out risk assessments and safety planning with callers, ensuring that the safety of the caller is made a priority.
    » Refer caller to relevant online information and send an information pack containing relevant leaflets and fact sheets if necessary.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that 100% of survivors receiving information via the Helpline have a better understanding of the options available to them as a result.

    Aim 3

    Empower women to leave an abusive relationship and take steps to keep safe.


    » Offer emotional support to all callers and (if appropriate) refer to counselling services.
    » Provide training to all staff and volunteers to ensure they understand the emotional aspects of domestic violence and provide an empathetic response

    What success will look like

    Success will be that 100% of survivors receiving information and support via the Helpline are better able to take decisions, and feel safer as a result.

    Aim 4

    Signpost women to support services in their local area, or to safe emergency accommodation if needed


    » Provide callers with contact details of their local domestic violence service, in order that they can access face-to-face support.
    » Refer callers to a refuge in an appropriate area of the country, should they need to leave their home because of abuse.
    » Ensure that all services in England are accessible via the Helpline by updating and maintaining UKRefugesonline, an online database of refuges.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that 100% of survivors needing further support/emergency refuge accommodation are signposted to local domestic violence service providers as appropriate.

    Aim 5

    Provide info and support to professionals and the victim’s friends/family.


    » Respond to calls from friends and family of women affected by domestic violence, and provide practical information and emotional support.
    » Provide statutory and sector professionals with information and support to help them assist individuals experiencing domestic violence.
    » Signpost family/friends and professionals to relevant online information, and send out an information pack if required.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that 100% of professionals/friends/family using the service felt better able to carry out their job and/or provide support as a result.

  • Impact


    Women are being provided with information and support that will put them in a better position to protect themselves and their children. As a result, we would expect these women and children to be safer, to be less likely to suffer the effects to their mental and physical health caused by domestic violence, and to be in a position to leave a relationship before the abuse escalates. This will be demonstrated by a reduction in the number of incidents of domestic violence.


    As a service that relies on technology, there may be situations when the technology fails to perform. We have safeguards in place to minimise this risk, and have installed back-up systems where possible. Lack of funding to run the service could also pose a risk. Despite using the services of volunteers, a bank of core paid staff is essential to ensure a consistent and reliable service. We proactively fundraise for the service to try and ensure that these cost these costs are covered


    Staff use a database to monitor the details of calls received. This data will be used to provide information on call volumes, caller location, types of calls, and the nature of support/information given. An annual survey will be carried out with a sample of callers in order to measure satisfaction.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £1,041,480

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £743,397 Staff costs Salaries, NI, pesnion, training, recruitment costs and for Helpline manager, teamleader and workers.
      £73,012 Premises Premises
      £89,226 Activity costs Legal & Finance costs, Database development/hosting and technical support. Helpline telephone costs.
      £135,845 Management & admin costs Cost of finance, HR and other indirect central activities necessary to support the delivery.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Home Office £500,000 Guaranteed
    Comic Relief £160,000 Guaranteed
    London Councils £120,000 Conditional
  • Background


    The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline service is England-wide, and receives calls from all areas of the country, as well as from Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The Helpline is run from two call centres, one located in Bristol and the other in London.


    Since launching in December 2003, over 1 million calls have been made to the Helpline. Between 1st April 2012 and 31st December 2012, over 66,000 people received support, information, referral into refuges and signposting to specialist services as a result of calling the Helpline. Of these, 63% were women seeking support, 17% were professionals working with victims of domestic violence, and 17% were the family and friends of people experiencing domestic violence.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The two leading domestic violence charities, Women’s Aid and Refuge, work jointly to run the Helpline service. With 40 years experience working to support victims of domestic violence, the charities are seen as experts in the field by the public and statutory bodies alike. The combined expertise of Women’s Aid and Refuge ensures that Helpline staff are provided with high quality training and information to make sure that all callers receive the best possible level of support to callers.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sue Haile

    Helpline Manager for Women’s Aid.

    Cris Kinkead

    Helpline Manager for Refuge.


will allow us to provide support to 85 callers

[The Helpline] changed my life. Had I not phoned I could have been murdered and another domestic violence statistic

Helpline Caller 1