Dedicated Childline volunteer counsellors will be on the end of phone lines and online around the clock this Christmas to ensure hundreds of children and young people have someone to talk to.
Last Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day Childline delivered 1,819 counselling sessions, a 10 per cent increase on the same days in the previous year.
On Christmas Day 2017 volunteers carried out 511 counselling sessions with children – up from 495 in 2016 and 409 in 2015 and the free and confidential helpline is preparing for hundreds of young people to get in touch over the coming days.
At the Childline base in Leeds, staff and volunteers handled 405 online contacts from children contacting them from across the UK, over the 12-day period covering Christmas and
New Year 2017/2018.
Worries about mental or emotional health, family relationships and suicidal thoughts were the most frequent concerns reported by children and young people.
One boy aged 10 told Childline: “Mum forgot Christmas because of her drinking – she drinks a lot. It’s just me and mum since dad left to live with his new partner. I don’t see him anymore as he has a new family.
“When I told her I had wished she had remembered Christmas she just said Santa isn’t real anyway. All my friends are having big meals with music and family and presents but not me.
Mum is just sleeping all day and I feel really sad.
“I went in to her room to see if she wanted to watch some TV and she yelled at me to get out. It hurt my heart.”
Ros Deo, Childline Supervisor who will be working Christmas Day in Leeds said: “Christmas is a time when everyone is excited at the thought of spending time with family but for many
young people, it is a time of year they dread.
“We often find that young people do not tell anyone about their worries because they don’t want to spoil Christmas for the rest of the family. Many young people put everyone else’s
happiness before their own.
“Childline provides a safe space where they can talk about how they are feeling and be supported in finding more positive, safer ways of coping. It’s not an overstatement to say that
by giving young people a safe space to take time to talk and explore their situation, we save lives.”
The figures from Childline emphasise the vital support that the helpline provides to many children during the Christmas period.
But at the moment the service can only respond to 3 out of 4 children who need our help. Childline needs the support of the public so it can continue to be there for even more young people.
Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: “Christmas for many people is a happy time of year. But at Childline we know only too well that isn’t always the case for thousands of children and young people across the UK. For many it can be an extremely difficult time of year which can leave them in a very dark place.
“Thankfully Childline doesn’t close at Christmas and that is all thanks to our fantastic staff and volunteers who will be working around the clock, including Christmas Day, to ensure someone is there day or night to help any child or young person in need of advice or support, be it online or over the phone.”
Children and young people can contact Childline anytime on 0800 1111 or find support online at www.childline.org.uk