Charities awarded 116 numbers

28 October 2009

Helplines mainOfcom has today confirmed the three organisations that will run the first pan-European 116 helpline phone numbers in the UK.

The new 116 numbers have been introduced so that people can call helplines using the same memorable number regardless of which EU country they are in.

The following organisations have been selected to provide their services on these 116 numbers:

  • Missing People will use 116 000 for a missing children helpline;
  • NSPCC will use 116 111 for its ChildLine service; and
  • Samaritans will use 116 123 for an emotional support helpline.

Today's announcement follows a selection process by Ofcom who were advised by independent panels set up by the Government.

Memorable numbers

These new 116 numbers will run alongside the three organisations' existing helpline numbers. 

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive of Missing People

'This is an exciting opportunity for the charity Missing People to share the Europe-wide number for missing children. The charity already takes 128,000 calls every year and this has extended the opportunities to contact us.'

NSPCC Director of helplines, Christine Renouf

''It's excellent news that we have been allocated 116 111. This is a positive step towards making sure children are aware there are helplines across Europe which they can access through a single number.'

Chief Executive of Samaritans, Catherine Johnstone

'We welcome the 116 123 phone number which will give anyone in emotional distress a free, short and simple way to call Samaritans. We believe that giving people the chance to talk can alleviate feelings of despair and suicidal thoughts - ultimately saving lives.'

116 numbers will allow anyone travelling around Europe to access providers of similar services by calling the same six-digit memorable number.

This will make it easier for visitors to find the right number when they need help or advice.

Calls to these three numbers will be free of charge in the UK, whether made from a fixed line, mobile or public phone box.

Ofcom expects the numbers to be in use later next year.

Finite resource

Every year Ofcom allocates millions of telephone numbers to communications providers for homes, businesses and organisations to use.

Ofcom's Competition Policy Director, Daniel Gordon said: 'Ofcom's role is to enable these numbers to be rolled out in the UK for the benefit of consumers.

'These new 116 numbers will mean people can call these services wherever they are in Europe.'

More 116 numbers have been reserved by the European Commission for helpline services recently and Ofcom will consult on the proposed arrangements for those numbers over the next few months.

Read Ofcom's recent statement on 116 numbers

Telephone numbers - the facts and figures