Childline and NSPCC issue urgent appeal to recruit more volunteers to staff helplines
Childline has issued an urgent appeal for volunteers to staff its helplines because it is struggling to meet the growing demand for children's mental health support caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The NSPCC is warning about the devastating mental health impact the lockdown is having on children as new figures reveal its helplines have seen rapid increases in the number of counselling sessions for children aged 11 and under – with the monthly average now rising by a staggering 16%.
Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers who answer calls to its helpline and with covid restrictions and school closures in Kent set to continue, the service is urgently appealing for more help in the evenings and at weekends.
Latest figures from the NSPCC show that counsellors have delivered more than 54,000 sessions to children of all ages since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago, with a marked increase during each lockdown in the numbers of youngsters contacting the charity about loneliness, low mood, anxiety and isolation.
With schools expected to be closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February, if not Easter, and the whole of the UK still in lockdown, the charity says it is now more important than ever that children are not left isolated, alone and unsupported.
With the service currently delivering between 5,000 and 7,000 sessions a month, and its own volunteer numbers having shrunk since the disruption began last March, it is urgently appealing to anyone who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to get in touch.
Anyone can volunteer for Childline and no previous experience working with children is required. But people who are passionate about helping young people, who can be empathetic, have great communication skills, can think on their feet and have emotional resilience are all desired qualities.
Full training will be given to all volunteers who are therefore asked to stay in the role for a minimum of one year.
Ella Baxter, a Childline volunteer counsellor for three years, said: “I’ve heard first-hand the devastating impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health and well-being.
“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.”
To learn more about volunteering with Childline and the NSPCC please click here.
Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to 3.30 am from Monday to Friday or 9am to 3.30am at weekends. Or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk