South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove hosted the launch of the Swindon based charity which will tackle workplace on 25 April.
The National Bullying Helpline is the brainchild of Swindon based human resources specialists Christine and David Pratt from Abbey Meads who have been offering help and advice on bullying in the workplace for 10 years. But they needed charitable status to secure funding from the national lottery, government and sponsors in order to increase the support they can give to employees desperate for help.
The helpline provides free support to anyone seeking advice on how to handle contentious work related situations. Until the launch initial support and counselling has been free but limited to a few.
Over 120 people attended the launch in Parliament and received wide media coverage, including the HR consultants and advisors who will be working with the charity. pictured right
Host, Anne Snelgrove, said, "congratulations on a wonderful initiative and having the perseverance and tenacity to see it through to the launch."
The charity has been launched in memory of Tim Field, who established the first workplace bullying advice line in 1996, and sadly died in 2006. His wife Susan said, "I'm so proud and honoured to be at the launch."
Their son Michael will be a trustee and Professor Cary Cooper, Britain’s leading stress guru has agreed to be patron.
Bullying costs the economy ??32 billion a year and 1 in 4 people allege that they are currently experiencing bullying so it is a huge issue from both a personal and financial perspective.
Christine Pratt, "we have much to do and desperately need to build our resources. There is a huge demand for this support service and we need to recruit and train more people to ensure we are able to deal with the increased levels of calls we are receiving every day."
Earlier in the year the helpline saw a massive increase in demand from people of all nationalities after Jade Goody and housemates laid into Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother. Christine said many callers had not realised they were being bullied before they watched the programme and thought about the issues raised by the national debate which followed. She expects that there will be an increase in formal complaints over the next few months. The helpline also helps employers look at their practice and keep legal costs down.
Following launch publicity in the national media, the charity hotline was flooded with 600 calls, e-mails and web site hits in the 48 hours after David appeared on BBC Breakfast TV at on the morning of the launch. One case of suicide because of workplace bullying and two cases of physical assault was reported, in the workplace, one involved an employee of a high profile bank. The cases have been referred to the police and crime numbers allocated.
After the launch Christine Pratt (pictured with David, right)said she wantedto thank many people for helping the charity come about. "Anne Snelgrove MP and Swindon Council chief executive Gavin Jones have been particularly supportive. Additionally, we acknowledge and thank GWR, BBC Wiltshire Sound, Brunel FM and both the Swindon Advertiser and Swindon Link Magazine for their encouragement and support over the last 5 years.
"We have come a long way and now, finally, we believe we have proved that there is a need for our services. Up to this point we have been privately run and funded. Now that we are a Charity, we are governed by a Patron, Professor Cary Cooper (Britain's leading stress guru) and a Board of Trustees . But as a Charity we are also able to seek sponsorship from both industry and the Government in order to expand on our resources and develop the quality of response we are able to provide to callers."
A Swindon launch is being planned at a recetion at Lydiard Park on 25 June
To contact the National Bullying Helpline call 0845 2255787. All calls are confidential. Operators are specialists, trained to understand statutory employment legislation.
Breakthrough in Europe. Framework Agreement outlaws workplace bullying.
Up to now there has been no law against workplace bullying and UK Tribunals and Courts have had to rely largely on The Harassment Act and discrimination laws where claims of bullying are brought before them and are proven.
On 26 April 2007, the day after The National Bullying Helpline Charity was launched at The House of Commons, Brussels released an announcement confirming that the ETUC have signed a Framework Agreement on harassment and violence at work. The agreement aims to prevent and, where necessary, manage problems of bullying and physical violence in the workplace. Companies in Europe are now required to adopt a policy of zero-tolerance towards such behaviour and draw up appropriate procedures. This ruling will make it easier for claims to be brought before our Employment Tribunals and Courts.
This European announcement is a breakthrough and coincides also with the recent release of the DTI Michael Gibbons Report, a UK Government Paper which urges employers to work closer with Helplines and Mediators – such as ACAS and The National Bullying Helpline, in order to resolve contentious issues early on and help reduce employment tribunal statistics.