The feasibility of inferring the plasma parameters of a Penning discharge in helium, from the experimentally observed intensities of a number of spectral lines in the visible wavelength region, is explored. The collisional-radiative model of ADAS (atomic data analysis structure) code and database has been used for this analysis. The electron density, electron temperature, ground-state atom and ion densities and also the 2 3S metastable state density are the parameters thus estimated. The results are encouraging. The derived plasma parameters are then used to obtain the intensities of a few lines in the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) region. This has been compared with the observed VUV spectral lines, recorded simultaneously with the visible lines, using a VUV spectrometer for which intensity calibration was not available, to arrive at calibration factors. It is expected that this approach might provide an alternative to the 'branching ratio' method for calibration in the VUV region once the analysis is improved and the possible re-absorption of certain lines is accounted for.