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Whenever anyone in this area rings the national helpline - 0800 917 7650 - the call is automatically diverted to our area helpline number - 01273 203343 - and then on to one of our 28 TELEPHONE RESPONDERS who receives the call on his or her home telephone.
Each Telephone Responder works between a 3 and 8 hour shift, and there are four shifts per day, ensuring the phone is answered twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year.
Calls from "professionals" (doctors, police, health workers, probation workers, social workers, press, employers, teachers etc.) are passed on to the relevant Intergroup Liaison Officer; family members are generally referred to the Al-Anon helpline, and existing AA members can usually be given the information they need - typically the time and place of a relevant meeting.
The most important calls are those from the still-suffering alcoholic asking for help. Occasionally these come from outside our area and they are given the number of their own Intergroup. Calls originating from within our two Intergroups are passed on to a 12TH STEPPER - an existing AA member from within the two Intergroups in the same locality as the caller and always man for man, woman for woman.
Contact details of 12th steppers are on a list maintained by the Telephone Liaison Officer, and a copy is held by each telephone responder. Individuals' names and telephone numbers are not given out; the responder takes the first name and telephone number of the caller and then rings a 12th Stepper with the details. Telephone Responders do not take on the 12th Step call themselves while they are on duty.
(ii) If an AA member does need to ring the local helpline, they should always use the 01273 number and not the 0845 number; again, this saves the Intergroups money.
We always need new Telephone Responders both to provide cover when existing responders are unavailable, and also to take over shifts when current responders move away or become unable to continue for some other reason.
The TWELFTH STEP LIST is the life-blood of the service - but is only as good as the work put in by individual groups and GSRs in compiling and maintaining it. The more names that are on the list, the more the work is shared out and the less time each telephone responder has to spend finding someone suitable in a particular area.