FCMS contract win to create 100 jobs

Fylde-based FCMS has been chosen as preferred provider to handle telephone calls for Esther Rantzen's The Silver Line which will spark a major recruitment drive.

FCMS Staff insideThe firm earned the contract against stiff competition to handle calls for the whole of the UK, having completed a successful trial period. The service is due to be rolled out to the rest of the country later this year, allowing FCMS to take on 100 more employees.

The Silver Line aims to offer callers a one-stop telephone number to call where lonely and older people can ring up to speak to someone who understands their problems, can provide information on a variety of subjects, or just be there for a chat.

The service provides signposting that links people into various services that exist around the country and a telephone befriending scheme that matches callers with a Silver Line Friend and offers a weekly telephone call.

The national story about the concept of The Silver Line broke last year, just at the time when FCMS heard that they had lost the NHS 111 call handling contract to national provider NHS Direct. Staff at the call centre on Whitegate Drive were devastated at the news about 111 and the impact that it would have throughout the business.

Suzy Layton, chief executive, said: “NHS 111 had been a core of our call handling operation – we’d been doing an excellent job with dedicated staff with local knowledge and everyone knew at that time that losing the contract would be a problem to the business going forward. The staff met and brainstormed a list of 72 business ideas for the future, to compensate for the loss of this one important contract.

“Whilst looking at the viability of these 72 ideas, FCMS heard about The Silver Line, and sent a speculative letter to Esther Rantzen explaining our company ethos and abilities and how we felt that we could add a huge amount to their project. Twelve months and a lot of hard work later, we received notification that we had been named as preferred provider for the Silver Line contract, almost a year after the news of losing NHS 111”

FCMS was initially asked to handle a three month pilot for evening, overnight and bank holiday call handling for the first trial region, Greater Manchester and the Isle of Man. At this point, The Silver Line project was being managed by one person on the team, and the proactive way in which FCMS supported them, handled the account and helped to shape and develop the service meant that the Fylde coast area was quickly included in the pilot, and the trial never ended.

When signed, the new contract will see FCMS providing round the clock call handling for the whole of the UK, a service which will create around 100 new jobs for the Fylde coast. “This is a huge achievement and great news for everyone,” said Suzy. “We’ll be having a big recruitment drive starting from week commencing August 12 for new call handlers at our Whitegate Drive Centre and a new centre which will be opening in Wesham at the PCT building in November."