Helplines Partnership completes merger with local information service ICIS

ICIS had faced financial difficulties since the cancellation of a contract with West Sussex County Council in April last year


The Helplines Partnership, a national umbrella body for helpline providers, has completed a merger with ICIS, a local information service.

ICIS, which provides information and advice for people seeking care and support in West Sussex, has become a subsidiary of the Helplines Partnership, itself formed through a merger in September 2012 between the Mental Health Helplines Partnership and the Helplines Association.

ICIS’s annual report for 2011/12 showed the charity had an income of £205,873 during the year and seven employees.

It faced financial difficulties when a long-running contract with West Sussex County Council was cancelled in April 2012. Under the merger, the branding, staffing and location of ICIS will remain the same.

A spokeswoman for the Helplines Partnership said: "Whereas the Helplines Partnership delivers training and quality standards, ICIS has expertise in IT and website design, so the services complement each other very well.

"ICIS is a small organisation when compared with the Helplines Partnership and does it regionally, whereas we do it on a national basis. Bringing it under our umbrella will save costs and enable it to provide services to a wider audience."

David Crowther, chair of ICIS, said in the charity’s annual report that the charity was "surprised and concerned" when it received notice in October 2011 that the local authority was withdrawing funding at the end of the financial year.

A new funding strategy was implemented, which involved charging for services previously provided for free and stepping up fundraising activities alongside negotiations for the merger, he said.

"The merger will support ICIS’s future sustainability, provide opportunities for the excellent work of ICIS to be replicated and developed for different audiences elsewhere in the UK, and will enable the continuation of its well-respected and high-quality services within West Sussex," he wrote.

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