Care first

Care first provides confidential, impartial advice and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is free for University of Exeter staff members and postgraduate research students to access whenever you need. Family members who live at the same address as staff members and postgraduate students, although not entitled to counselling by Care first, are entitled to immediate support and signposting to relevant support agencies. You don't need to ask permission from your line manager or supervisor before contacting Care first.

Care first services

Telephone information and advice

Care first's information and advice specialists can help you find practical ways forward when you feel overwhelmed by problems. Sometimes, having the information to make a sensible plan, and some support in doing so, is all it takes to feel better. The advisors are highly trained to quickly find what you need and help you get back in control of your life.

To contact Care First telephone: 0800 174319

If you are calling on a mobile and are concerned about costs, then an advisor will be very happy to call you back if you ask.

Common subjects include:

Family and personalDebtWorkplace
  • Relationships
  • Divorce
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Childcare
  • Eldercare
  • Community care
  • Changing a name
  • Credit
  • Debt
  • Banks
  • Loans
  • Consolidation
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Maternity rights/pay
  • Sick pay
  • Health and safety at work

Online service

Care first lifestyle is an online resource containing information, advice and articles for issues occurring in everyday life.

How do I access the online service?

To access the online service visit the Carefirst Lifestyle website

Issues covered include:

At homeAt workHealth
  • Debt
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Your home
  • Bereavement
  • Childcare
  • Stress
  • Change
  • Conflict
  • Promotion
  • Pressure
  • Retirement
  • Physical health
  • Wellbeing
  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • a place to check out health worries or
  • get inspiration and support for healthy habits

Counselling service

Care First provide a Counselling service to University employees, their families (those family members residing at the same address), and postgraduate research students.

You can access Care First 24/7 via their telephone help line. When you contact Care First, the person that you speak to on the ‘phone will be a trained counsellor and you will not have to go through a call handler first.

Over the ‘phone, you and the Counsellor will talk and agree if you would like more support and agree the best way forward for you. In some cases, the Counsellor will ask you to consider your options (i.e. would you like face to face support or telephone counselling) and ask you to call back with a decision. This is to give you some space and time to consider what is right for you.

Care first's counsellors are members of, and accredited to, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), with extensive experience and expertise.  You can discuss anything that is troubling you, whether it is personal difficulties – for example relationships, family matters, stress, loss or bereavement; or work-related issues such as feeling pressure, work-load, changes at work, bullying or harassment.

Whatever your situation you can be sure of a supportive and constructive response. However should you have any reason to be unhappy with the service you receive, the university would welcome your feedback. You can email your general thoughts or if you would like to report your concerns confidentially to the Occupational Health Service you can email

Care first support information

Care first produce a number of factsheets and useful articles which you may find beneficial:

Confidentiality – Care first’s Professional Promise

It can take some courage to pick up the phone and contact Care first to ask for some support with personal or workplace issues. We at Care first know that and treat whatever you have to say to us with the greatest respect. Sometimes people hesitate and wonder is our discussion confidential.

Care first guarantees confidentiality when you call 0800 174319. The only exceptions to this are high-risk areas when it would be irresponsible of us ethically not to take action with what we are hearing. These areas are namely: The threat to the life of another person, when there are child protection or vulnerable adult issues at stake or when a caller’s actions pose a threat to the security of the organisation. In all such cases the counsellor will discuss with the caller how best s/he needs to act responsibly. Any ethical counselling organisation needs to be alert to these risk areas and Care first leads the way in working with callers to help find solutions when these issues are broached.

The University does not know who uses our service unless the individual personally chooses to tell someone about his or her contact with Care first. We do provide statistics to your organisation to show how many employees use the service and the broad types of issues that employees raise with us, for example; ‘relationship breakdown at home’ or ‘bullying and harassment in the workplace’, so no information is ever passed on which could potentially identify you.

We hope this reinforcement of Care first’s professional practice will encourage anyone hesitating to trust us with whatever area of your life you may need some support with.


Confidentiality: Although provided by the University of Exeter, Care first services are completely independent and your call is treated in confidence in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework. When you make contact you will be asked to identify your employer and you may also be asked for other information – this is purely for statistical use. You do not even need to give your real name if you do not wish to.