BBC launches confidential bullying helpline

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Actors, directors and writers who feel they have been bullied or harassed while working for the BBC will be able to report their concerns to trained counsellors via a new confidential helpline.

The initiative follows the launch of a similar bullying helpline launched by BECTU last month, which is available to all workers in the entertainment sector, and comes as a survey conducted by the Federation of Entertainment Unions revealed that 56% of people working in the entertainment industry have been bullied at work.

Under the BBC’s initiative, anyone working for the BBC who has experienced bullying or harassment will be able to call the helpline, which is run by Care First, an organisation that provides counselling-related services to public and private work sectors.

The helpline will be run by trained counsellors who will work with callers to “explore, identify and prioritise” their difficulties and find a way to resolve them.

A spokesman for the BBC said: “Although bullying and harassment affects a very small number of BBC employees we believe it is important to continually try to improve the level of support we provide to everyone who works here. As part of this the BBC has introduced a confidential bullying and harassment helpline delivered by independent service Care first. The line is available to everyone who works for the BBC, including freelancers and casual staff.”

He added: “If a caller is experiencing bullying or harassment, Care first’s experienced team of trained counsellors will work with them to explore, identify and prioritise the difficulties that the caller is facing and talk through the options for resolving them. We will continue to work within the BBC and with the wider broadcasting industry to stamp out bullying and harassment wherever we can.”

The BBC’s helpline, available on 0800 014 7154, was one of the recommendations in the Corporation’s Respect at Work Review, led by Dinah Rose QC, which found that inappropriate behaviour such as bullying is a “very real concern” at the BBC. It also revealed some staff are too scared to speak out about their concerns.

The Federation of Entertainment Unions, which includes Equity, BECTU and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, is currently running a campaign called Creating Without Conflict, which has been set up to “challenge bullying and harassment in the entertainment industries”.

It has conducted a survey, completed by more than 4,000 people, which will be discussed in detail at a conference on November 19.

Initial findings have revealed that, in some sectors, “unreasonable behaviour was endemic”.  As well as finding that 56% of respondents had been bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work, it revealed more than two thirds of those who took part working in television, radio, film, and national and local newspapers had experienced “ill treatment”.