BBC Action Line received over 1,060,000 visits online and over the phone, supporting a record number of people in 2020.
In a year when coronavirus changed the way we all live, new figures reveal the significant impact that BBC programmes have had in encouraging people to seek help with a wide range of issues.
BBC Action Line – which provides supporting information for viewers and listeners affected by issues addressed in BBC programmes – saw an increase of 21,000 visits from last year.
Encouraged by powerful storylines that shine a light on issues which audiences may have been affected by themselves, emotional distress, sexual abuse or violence and mental health-related issues prompted the most audience requests.
Nick Mason, Head of Audience Services, says: “This has been an exceptionally tough year for many people – and one in which the BBC’s role as a public service broadcaster has been more important than ever. The rise in visits to our support pages shows just how important our Action Line service and we are grateful to the organisations signposted on the site, which play a vital role in keeping it running.”
EastEnders: Secrets from the Square, which was broadcast in June, generated at total of 14,313 visits to the support page. In an episode where members of the cast discussed various storylines raising issues of bereavement, domestic abuse and child sexual abuse, BBC Action Line provided a way for people to reach out and seek support.
BBC News used the Action Line more in 2020 than in previous years, especially for support with mental health, emotional distress or suicide and bereavement following reports connected with Covid-19.
The Action Line also directly supported programmes associated with COVID-19, including 3,440 following Hospital: Coronavirus Special, 7,798 following Unprecedented and 12,960 following One World: Together at Home.
The drama I May Destroy You generated 24,031 visits to the support page, while Anthony generated 3,511 visits.
The two documentaries Rob Burrow: My Year With MND (7,207 visits) and Doddie Weir: One last try (1,827 visits) highlighted the difficulties faced by those suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. The series Ambulance, which was also broadcast throughout the year, prompted 34,366 visits to the support page and Series 3 of Reported Missing raised a number of issues supported by the Action Line, prompting 6,894 visits to the website.
The BBC held Mental Health Week in May, in which ‘Kindness’ was the running theme. This, as well as the BBC’s continued focus on mental health awareness, resulted in the Mental Health Action line receiving 121,161 total online visits and calls in 2020, which was a 45.8% increase from last year.
In November, Radio 1 hosted Minute of Me, where listeners were offered one minute to talk about something that completely defined them, and a support page was set up to cover most issues. This prompted 14,901 visits to the support page.
A new Action Line was also created this year to support victims of racism and racist hate crime. The first programme to use the new support page was Anton Ferdinand: football Racism and Me, which was broadcast on November 30th on BBC One. This Action Line page has been viewed over 1,000 times to date.