Childline volunteers keep helpline open over the holidays

VOLUNTEERS at the East Midlands ChildLine base have been keeping lines open over the holidays to answer calls from children.

Over the 12 days of Christmas last year, volunteers answered 567 cries for help from young people, including calls from Derbyshire.

Children across the UK contacted ChildLine 2,373 times for in-depth online or telephone counselling on Christmas Day last year alone, figures have shown.

Family relationship problems, bullying and sexual abuse were the most common reasons for children to contact ChildLine over the Christmas holidays last year. Nearly one in six counselling sessions (13%) were about depression, self harm or suicide.

Last year, the number of children contacting the 24-hour service about suicide over Christmas and New Year rose above the average for the year1 with around 23 emails, phone calls and online chats per day from children who were feeling suicidal over the festive season.

ChildLine’s volunteer counsellors give up their time throughout the festive period to enable the charity’s helpline to stay open 365 days a year. East Midlands ChildLine service manager, Ziv Israeli says the volunteers are a vital lifeline for children who feel they have nowhere else to turn.

“On New Year’s Eve, when most people are heading out for a night on the town, ChildLine volunteers in the East Midlands will be taking calls and messages from children who need someone to talk to.

“We couldn’t keep ChildLine open for children without their amazing commitment and dedication.

“While Christmas and New Year can be a time of celebration, for some young people the festivities can make their problems feel even more distressing.

Children who posted on ChildLine’s message boards about what they wanted their parents’ or carers’ New Year resolution to be said:

* I would want my parents to stop arguing, to understand that although there are walls in the house, it doesn’t mean that I can’t hear what is going on and all the anger and shouting downstairs and especially at night when I just want to close my eyes and sleep.

*I would ask my dad to stop drinking and smoking as it is hurting others around him other than himself.

*For my mum to stop hitting me. Thats all I want.

*For mom to understand how I actually feel.

ChildLine in the East Midlands is also calling on people to support the helpline by becoming a volunteer.

Ziv says: “We urgently need more volunteers in at our East Midlands ChildLine base in Nottingham to enable us to continue to respond to children’s cries for help throughout the year, particularly during the evenings and weekends. So, if you are interested in becoming a ChildLine volunteer, we would love to hear from you.”

For more information about becoming a volunteer, contact Catriona Wynne on 0207 539 6016 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk/getinvolved

Children can speak to a counsellor online at childline.org.uk or by telephone on 0800 1111.