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Helpline Freephone Range FAQ

Helpline Freephone Range FAQ’s

The Helpline Freephone Range is a group of 10,000 phone numbers reserved exclusively for helplines supporting vulnerable people. The numbers start 0808 80.

No. Ofcom own the 0808 80 numbers. Helplines Partnership administers the scheme on behalf of Ofcom.

Applying for a number

There are specific criteria to apply for an 0808 80 number. The helpline must be:

  • a Charity or Community Interest Company (CIC)
  • a member of Helplines Partnership
  • commissioned or run by the applicant
  • the number can only be used for a: helpline, advice line, listening support line, befriending line, counselling line, referral line or information service.

The line must not be used for any transactional services such as reception, administration or fundraising.

Simply fill out our online application form and a member of the Team will keep you informed of progress. By submitting the form you are confirming you agree to the Terms and Conditions of the scheme.

Yes. You can apply for one or more numbers at the same time or separately. You need to clearly explain the purpose of each number requested on the application form.

We will let you know the outcome of your application within one week. If you need the number urgently then let us know and we will do our best to speed up the process.

No. However, organisations must continue membership with Helplines Partnership whilst the HFR number is in use.

HFR is specifically available for helplines which meet the eligibility criteria of the scheme. Membership of HLP is a key mechanism to ensure that only helplines which meet the HFR criteria can access the numbers. Helplines wishing to become HLP members have to meet minimum standards. This means that improved support can be given to vulnerable people who need to access helpline services. HLP dedicates a considerable amount of time to ensure that this complex scheme can be viable for helplines in the future.

The costs involved

A one-off application fee of £82 +VAT per number payable to Helplines Partnership. Plus a monthly administration fee of £11 +VAT (which can be paid annually if preferred).

Your current telecoms provider should not charge to change to an HFR number. Charges may be incurred if you are already in a contract so our advice is always to speak direct to your current telecoms provider first.

Organisations will pay 2.1 pence per minute (ppm) +VAT for incoming calls from landlines and mobiles to their chosen provider under the scheme. There may be additional costs for line rental and routing plans (sometimes called advanced features) which we recommend you discuss with your chosen telecoms provider beforehand.

The benefit of the HFR scheme is that incoming call costs for helplines are capped at 2.1ppm. 0800 and 0808 may incur higher charges and helplines should check with their telecoms providers.

Calls to 0808 80 numbers are free to call from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills. They are also free to call from BT payphones.

Allocating a number

We work with three nominated providers (Call Handling, Numeric Futures and BT). They will allocate your new number once your application has been approved by a Director at Helplines Partnership. You will be able to choose from the available numbers.

This is dependent on your provider and they will be able to advise you further.

Your chosen nominated telecoms provider will liaise with your current provider to transfer the number.

Your service should not be affected during the switchover. Your chosen provider will be happy to discuss your needs and provide further assurances.

Your broadband service should not be affected. Your chosen provider will be happy to discuss your needs and provide further assurances.

The 0808 80 range contains 10,000 numbers exclusively for charities and Community Interest Companies (CICs) operating helplines. Our nominated providers have been allocated a block of numbers and your chosen provider will be able go through the available numbers with you.

HLP can change your listing on our Find a Helpline online directory, but as part of your plans to move to a new number, you should consider how you will let your service users know about this. Some helplines run two numbers for a period of time when switching over so that users can still reach the service if they have accessed your previous number from older promotional materials.

Changing provider or cancelling a number

Organisations can change to another nominated provider under the scheme and the cost to the helpline remains the same. However, should a helpline port their number to a provider outside the scheme the helpline must provide data to Helplines Partnership on inbound call volumes annually and agree to pay Helplines Partnership 0.1p per inbound call minute +VAT. There can be some risks to porting an HFR to a non-HFR provider and HLP would be happy to talk with you about these risks.

A period of time is required before a number is reallocated.

The helpline/organisation must continue to be a member of Helplines Partnership for the entire period that the Helpline Freephone Range number is in use. If the number is no longer required and is cancelled with the provider, there is no termination fee from HLP, but you will also need to check with your provider as you may incur costs depending on your contract.

If you have any further queries, please email