22nd Jan, 2021

Childline volunteers urgently needed as service delivers 50,000 counselling sessions in pandemic, says NSPCC

CHILDINE is urgently appealing for more evening and weekend volunteers after delivering more than 50,000 counselling sessions to lonely and distressed children since March last year.

The NSPCC has today (Wednesday January 13) issued a warning about the devastating mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children as new figures reveal a 16% increase in the monthly average number of counselling sessions about mental and emotional health for those aged 11 and under.

Childline provides a free and safe space for children to share how they’re feeling. Child pictured is a model. Credit Tom Hull.

The latest data also shows the service has now delivered 54,926 counselling sessions to children of all ages on this issue from April to the end of December.

The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10% compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.

One girl aged 16 who contacted Childline said: “I feel really sad and lonely. I need to talk to someone because I don’t really have anyone right now. I am really struggling with the whole isolation thing. Most days I find myself just lost in my own thoughts and feeling numb. I am classed as a vulnerable person, so my isolation lasts for 12 weeks, which seems like a lifetime.”

Another 10-year-old said: “I’ve been missing my friends loads since the schools closed. They all have iPhones but I don’t, so I can’t get in touch with them over instant messenger. It’s making me feel left out and alone.”

Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and the service is urgently appealing to people who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer, particularly with schools closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February in the current UK lockdown.

Childline counsels children about anything causing them concern. Adult pictured is a model. Credit Tom Hull

Over the past ten months, the NSPCC-run service’s trained counsellors have heard first-hand the devastating impact that the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic have had on young people’s mental health. Their concerns include loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or school closures and cancelled exams – while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.

Neil Homer, 53, who works in telecoms and has volunteered for Childline since 2009, said: “As children’s lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic, it is vital that myself and my fellow volunteer counsellors continue to be here to listen to children’s worries and support them. However, we currently can’t answer every child so, if you can, please sign up and volunteer for Childline and help us reach every child who needs our support.”

Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to 3.30 am from Monday to Friday or 9am to 3.30am on weekends. Or they can get in touch via childline.org.uk

Anyone interested in volunteering with Childline within the charity’s Birmingham team can find further details here. Training is required and a minimum commitment of 12 months is needed.

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