We have had to take the very difficult decision to stop using WhatsApp (the internet-based mobile messaging platform) for service delivery from 30th April 2021, before new terms in WhatsApp’s privacy policy come into effect.

We’re gutted to need to do this. We know that for many people, WhatsApp is an easy, accessible way to reach us and an integrated part of their lives – an experience many of us share as staff. We are loath to let go of something with such important benefits, and at the same time we can’t and won’t sacrifice the safety of your information at any cost.

What’s changing – key dates:

If you contact our helpline via WhatsApp between now and 30th April, we will give you the choice to move straight to SMS or live chat, or to continue your conversation in WhatsApp on a temporary basis.

If you contact our helpline via WhatsApp from 30th April and before 15th May, you will receive an automatic response inviting you to resend your message via SMS (020 3322 1860).

The same will apply if you send an SMS to our WhatsApp number – we will signpost you to our purpose-built helpline SMS number (020 3322 1860) and stop sending personal responses the number you originally messaged from 30th April.

From 15th May it will no longer be possible to send us a message to our WhatsApp number. We will continue to be available for support through our other channels.

What’s staying the same

Everything else! We will continue to offer instant, back-and-forth messaging with our helpline team for up to 45 minutes a day, from 12-8pm, by SMS (020 3322 1860) and live chat (www.survivorsuk.org).

When you contact our helpline team via SMS or live chat for the first time, if you tell us you have contacted us on WhatsApp in the past they will be able to search our secure records of your past contact, so that you don’t have to repeat anything you don’t want to.

Other than the platform, you shouldn’t notice any difference in service.

Why we are stopping using WhatsApp

WhatsApp has announced that from 15th May it will begin to collect and share with Facebook the following details about its users:

  • Phone number
  • IP address
  • Unique identifiers associated with any Facebook products (e.g. the Facebook app) installed on the person’s phone
  • How the person interacts with organisations through the platform, such as ours – details about this are unclear.

WhatsApp has said that chat content will remain encrypted and not shared, but that Facebook will be able to use the information listed above for targeted advertising.

We take our responsibility to keep clients’ and callers’ data safe extremely seriously, and whilst it is for each individual to make their own decision about whether to use the app, it would be remiss of us as an organisation to offer services through a platform that allows itself to sell data on its callers to third parties, or that is vague in the details of how it uses people’s data.

How will we replace the benefits of WhatsApp

Although all our helpline platforms – live chat, SMS and email – can already be reached from mobile devices, we are seeking funding to upgrade our live chat platform to make it more user-friendly from mobile devices by the end of 2021.

Supporting each other through the transition

We’re working hard to support every WhatsApp helpline user over the next few weeks to make the transition. Thank you so much for your understanding while we do our best to make the move as comfortable for you as possible.


What will happen to my old WhatsApp messages?

You will still be able to see them in your own WhatsApp account unless you choose to delete it. Although we will have deleted our own WhatsApp accounts, we will still be able to see records of your previous WhatsApp chats, in case you contact us by one of our other platforms. We store these safely and securely with encryption (an industry-standard way of scrambling messages so they can’t be intercepted) in our specialist helpline software.

You can learn more about how we keep your data safe by reading our SurvivorsUK privacy policy.

Does the move away from WhatsApp mean I won’t be able to receive support any more through instant messaging on my mobile?

No – you absolutely still can! We will continue to offer instant, back-and-forth messaging for up to 45 minutes a day via SMS (020 3322 1860) and live chat (www.survivorsuk.org).

Will I have to repeat everything I’ve told you on WhatsApp if I contact you another way?

No. If you have contacted us on WhatsApp before, when you message us via SMS or live chat our team will be able to search our secure records of previous contact history with you and find details of previous WhatsApp chats, so that you don’t have to repeat anything you don’t want to.

I’ve contacted you through WhatsApp in the past – is my data secure?

Yes, your WhatsApp chats have always been protected by a high-security measure known as ‘end-to-end encryption’. We will continue to store records of your previous chats with us (including those via WhatsApp) in our secure, specialist helpline software in accordance with our SurvivorsUK privacy policy (not to be confused with WhatsApp’s privacy policy). Before WhatsApp’s new privacy policy comes into effect, we will delete all WhatsApp accounts and applications from all SurvivorsUK devices.

My concerns haven’t been addressed here – who can I contact?

Feel free to get in touch via the form on our Contact Us page, or by emailing [email protected]. Your email will be passed on to the most appropriate staff member, who will get back to you within 7 days.

We remain very much here for you. Thank you so much for your support.

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