A team of volunteers are preparing to leave their own families on Christmas day to answer Childline calls from children who have nowhere else to turn.
The NSPCC’s Helpline and Childline services operate 365 days a year, with trained counsellors poised to take calls from children, and adults who are concerned about a child’s welfare.
Both helplines are free and confidential to call – and demand can often increase over the festive period, when emotions can be magnified.
Almost 2,000 Childline counselling sessions were delivered over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year (2017) with more than 500 of those sessions delivered on Christmas Day.
Children contact Childline online or by phone about a wide range of different issues affecting them. These include poor mental health, sexual abuse, neglect, self-harm,and some young people tell us they are having suicidal thoughts.
The Childline service and number is shared with thousands of primary school children in Devon and Cornwall through the NSPCC’s Schools Service programme. It involves trained members of staff and volunteers delivering assemblies and workshops in schools around the different kinds of abuse and helping children identify a trusted adult they can speak to if they have a concern.
As part of the sessions children learn an interactive song that teaches them the Childline number, and they also watch a video animation about how a call they place will be answered.
Julie Campbell is the NSPCC’s Local Campaign Manager for the South West of England.
She says: “Christmas should be a magical time for children, but many young people will be facing some really distressing situations such as living with neglect, sexual abuse, family breakdowns or bereavement.
“It’s really important for us to teach children throughout the year about Childline, so they remember the number should they need it, even if that’s on Christmas Day. It can be a real lifeline.
“Any donations this Christmas will help us continue to help children. Childline offers all children the chance to talk about whatever issue they are facing, whether it’s big or small. Children are listened to by counsellors over the phone or online and they are specially trained to support children with their concerns. Children are given the time to talk about how they are feeling and no judgment is passed, which is really important to young people going through a tough time, especially if they don’t have the necessary support from friends or family.”
Adults who are worried about the welfare of a child can contact the NSPCC’s Helpline and speak to one of the charity’s practitioners on 0808 800 5000 orwww.nspcc.org.uk
Children can call Childline at any time on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk
If you want to donate the NSPCC this Christmas you can donate £3 to the NSPCC by texting SPARKLE to 70007.E