More volunteers are needed to man Supportline 179. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiMore volunteers are needed to man Supportline 179. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

A woman who needed psychological help on Monday night dialled supportline 179 – but the line was constantly busy.

A spokeswoman for the Foundation for Social Welfare Services, which runs the line, later confirmed that on the night in question the two volunteers manning the service were inundated with calls.

The service relies heavily on volunteers and is always looking out for more, she said.

Supportline 179 is a 24-hour free telephone service run by a team of professionally-trained volunteers offered by government support agency Appoġġ, which falls within the Foundation for Social Welfare Services.

The helpline provides confidential support to callers of any age facing a range of situations including child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, marital or family problems, loneliness, emotional difficulties, behavioural problems, depression and other mental health issues.

The line also provides information on social welfare services and referral systems to callers.

On Monday night, the woman called Times of Malta to point out that the support line was not accessible to her at a time of need. This newspaper tried calling and confirmed the lines were busy.

A foundation spokeswoman said that, on the day in question, supportline 179 received several dozen genuine calls, as well as “an inevitable number of hang-ups and wrong numbers”.

There were callers who wanted to report cases of suspected child abuse

“As can happen from time to time, the two volunteers present on the day in question had to handle several consecutive difficult calls which could have meant that both lines were busy. Some of these calls were quite intensive. There were callers who wanted to report cases of suspected child abuse, which need very skilful handling,” she said.

Appoġġ relies heavily on volunteers and, over the past years, it has renewed its call for volunteers – especially during weekends, public holidays and to cover morning and evening shifts.

“The general public can help by using the line responsibly,” the spokeswoman said.

According to the last official figures released last year, in 2012 the support line received 16,667 calls. Of these 234 were hoaxes, 3,807 hung up as soon as the call was answered, while 2,035 said they had dialled the wrong number by mistake.

Anyone interested in joining and training as a volunteer for supportline 179 can call 2295 9000, visit or

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.