Terms and Conditions

Welcome to Chat with Charlie. We hope you’ll feel safe here, below is more information about how we work and a guidance on what to consider when using the service, and hopefully answer any questions you may have.

We are not here to tell people what to do or give ‘expert’ advice – there’s rarely one answer to a problem. Sometimes just being able to ‘talk’ and share what you are thinking can really help. It can often clarify what we feel about something or help us decide what to do

We want everyone who uses Chat with Charlie to feel comfortable, there are a few ways we can help ensure this.

• Please treat others with respect and be polite
• Be considerate of our volunteers
• If you are worried about someone please contact us on or let your university know, you can contact the University of Essex here, or Writtle University College here

• Reach out for offline support if you think you might need more urgent help. If you’re not feeling safe contact the Samaritan on 116 123  or email  jo@samaritans.org, call 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department. The Urgent Support page can also help you to explore your options.
• Please do not use Chat with Charlie to promote commercial services
• Please do not use animated GIFs of images which could cause visual disturbances, but emoji’s are fine.
• Please do not post anything which is racist, homophobic, sexist or transphobic or pejorative about peoples experiences or specific mental health conditions
• Please avoid swearing or offensive language (including suggested swearing through symbols or images of swear words)
• It’s ok to share thoughts and feelings about food, eating and drinking. But please avoid numbers of calories, measurements, amounts of food eaten, and images of weight loss or detail about methods of gaining or losing weight.
• We know many people might struggle with issues such as addiction or alcohol abuse. It’s fine to seek support, but please do avoid specifics about quantities or details about illegal drug use
• Please do not post sexual content or innuendo – this kind of content can be unsafe or upsetting for others. This includes images and profile pictures.
• Please do not post or share images about things that could be upsetting for others, for example details of abuse, violence, self-harm, or suicide plans.

Keeping safe

• We take your safety seriously; this means that sometimes users may be temporarily or permanently suspended. We treat each situation on a case by case basis, and will try our best to communicate the reasons for withdrawing access to the site, either temporarily or permanently. If you wish to re-join Chat with Charlie, please email chatwithcharlie@mnessexmind.org so we can look at you re-joining.
• There may be times when we feel an instant messaging isn’t the best way to support you, when we think this is the case, we will let you know and offer alternative ways to get support. When might this be? – These may be times when you are finding it difficult to keep safe from harming yourself or others, or maybe you need a referral to an NHS service. It may just be that instant messaging is difficult for you to access reliably or a face to face service would work better for you. We would always try and discuss this with you.

We respect your confidentiality.

The content of each one to one session is confidential. That means anything you say to us or information you give to us will be kept safely and not shared, unless there is a serious risk of harm to you or others.

This may mean referral on to a more appropriate service for support, or passing on a safeguarding concern including non-recent abuse. We would hope to discuss any action on our behalf regarding your confidentially with you beforehand and support and encourage you to disclose information yourself.

We have a legal requirement to share directly with the appropriate authority any information involving a serious criminal offence or involvement in terrorist activity.

Our policy is to keep minimum communication notes and records which include personal information such as contact details and date of birth and confidential case notes which describe the focus of the sessions. In the usual course of events this information is only available to members of the Chat with Charlie team. All information is kept on a secure case management system in accordance with the Mid & North East Essex Privacy policy, and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018, see our Privacy policy for more information https://mnessexmind.org/about-us/your-data-and-how-we-use-it/our-privacy-policy-for-service-users/.

We discuss our work with a supervisor. This is a usual and necessary requirement, where names or personal details are not revealed.

Practical questions and answers

Getting Started : Once you have registered and verified your university email address, you will be able to chat in the ‘chat box’ Just type ‘Hello’ to start your chat, and one of the Charlie’s will join you for a chat, this is only available when the service is running.
How To Update Your Profile

To update your profile please visit the dashboard of the website, this is located at the top left of the website.

Following this please visit Profile -> Extended Profile. Within here you can edit all of your information from the registration page. You can also add a profile picture, this will be seen within forums so please refrain from using personal images to protect your identity from other members.• How do I delete my account? Please email chatwithcharlie@mnessexmind.org
• Where possible, we read all posts and comments, and remove anything inappropriate. We may give you feedback to help you post safely

Technical difficulties what happens?

• We will always do our best to resolve any technical problems as quickly as possible
• If our system is down, we will try and get it back as soon as we can. If we are unable to get the service running, we will try and contact you the next time the service is running.
• If the Tec goes wrong from your side- We will wait for you to get connected with us again, then after 5 minutes we will try and connect with you, if this is not successful we will wait another 5 minutes for you to connect with us, then presume connection is not possible and end our session. You are still welcome to try again the same evening or another evening.

What information do you keep? Who has access to it? How do you keep it, and for how long?

• We store all your information including your registration details, the transcripts from one to one chats, and the outcome questionnaire answers.
• In the usual course of events this information is only available to members of the Chat with Charlie team. All information is kept on a secure case management system in accordance with the Mid & North East Essex privacy policy, & the General Data Protection Regulation 2018.
• If you don’t log in for eg 3 months we will deactivate your account but you are welcome to re-register at any time as long as you are a student at Essex University. Privacy policy
• We will destroy all your registration details and transcripts after 20 years
• We will keep anonymised outcome information and feedback to improve our service

International Students using the service when they are out of the UK.

Our service is run from the United Kingdom and operates under the law of this country. We also abide by the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) Ethical Framework http://www.bacp.co.uk/events/learning_programmes/ethical_framework/documents/ethical_framework.pdf
We are happy to provide students with the service whilst they are visiting home, and all efforts to safeguard individuals will be made. As it is likely we will not be able to contact services locally to you, we do ask for an emergency contact, so if we are concerned about your wellbeing we would do our best to contact them.

Who am I chatting to?

We are a team of volunteers and a coordinator, the volunteers come from a range of different backgrounds, and experiences. All our volunteers are trained in instant messaging, and listening and responding skills.

Why don’t we use our real names?

We all call ourselves Charlie, firstly as this is the name of Charlie Watkins, the reason behind this service being created. if you would like more information on Charlie and the Charlie Watkins Foundation please visit https://www.cwfoundation.co.uk/. The second reason is we feel it is often easier to talk to someone we don’t know, to let it all go to someone we feel no responsibility for, and may never meet. We do identify ourselves by the number Charlie we are, as there may be times when you wish to message with the same person again.