Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre have launched Theatre Helpline, a free 24-hour phone and email service supporting theatre professionals with any issue affecting their health and wellbeing.
The confidential resource, available from 00:01 on 14 June, offers support and advice on a range of personal and professional topics, including bullying, physical and mental health, finance, careers and retirement issues. It is open to anyone working in theatre, whether in-house or freelance.
SOLT and UK Theatre are working with Wales-based company Connect Assist to provide the helpline. Callers will be given a safe place to share worries and concerns, and be provided with the resources they need to seek professional help if necessary. Like other existing support services in the UK, Theatre Helpline is not a whistleblowing service.
Created as a result of SOLT and UK Theatre’s 2017 Theatre Workforce Review and the rise of several high-profile movements against toxic working cultures, Theatre Helpline complements work already being done by SOLT and UK Theatre as part of industry-wide efforts to encourage safe and supportive working practices.
A downloadable handbook is available on the UK Theatre website, containing ‘10 Principles’ encouraging safe and supportive working practices in theatre, a legal checklist to help theatres implement or modify policies and procedures, summaries and suggestions from open forums held across the country, and a list of organisations equipped to deal with sensitive issues.
Cassie Chadderton, Head of UK Theatre, said: “UK Theatre and SOLT are committed to bringing the theatre industry together to provide a supportive working environment for everyone. People do have challenges that affect their working lives, and inappropriate behaviour can be found in any area of the industry. Whether in the rehearsal room, boardroom, front of house or backstage, we hope Theatre Helpline provides a place for theatre professionals to talk through any concerns they have, at any time.”
Theatre Helpline will initially run as a pilot for one year, providing the industry with insight into what further support might be necessary, and how it might be funded in the longer term.
To promote the helpline, SOLT and UK Theatre have produced posters and business cards detailing the service provided and the contact information. A digital version of the poster is available to download on the Theatre Helpline website.
The number for the Theatre Helpline is 0800 915 4617. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. All calls are free of charge.