independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Christmas Day misery as Childline inundated with calls

MORE than 50 text messages and calls were made to Childline every hour by distressed children seeking someone to talk to on Christmas Day.

Volunteers listened and responded to 1,212 calls, texts and messages on the 24-hour service run by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( ISPCC).

"On Christmas Day you get some sad calls where children might be talking about family rows where there is alcohol involved," said Childline manager Margie Roe.

"For the majority, it is a great time for having fun. For others, it can be a stressful time if finances are short."

Among the many issues raised by children with the Childline volunteers were family difficulties, loneliness and mental health issues.

"In some cases, these children and young people feel they can't talk to family and are not sure who to turn to," Ms Roe said.

"And we do get calls about suicide. We have a lot of support there for staff and volunteers; some of the calls can be very tough."

The service expects to have answered over half a million calls in 2012 by the end of the year, with around 17,000 conversations via its Teentext service.

Volunteers have found that evenings and weekends when children are off school are particularly busy periods.

A survey of 14,000 young people carried out by the ISPCC earlier this year found 15pc felt they could not really talk to their family.

Meanwhile, a confidential telephone-based counselling and support service for adults who were abused in childhood, Connect, has been extended until January 6.

Connect manager Theresa Merrigan said Christmas could be an emotional time for people and this created greater demand for counselling.

The service, which is funded by the HSE, will be open from 6pm until 10pm daily.

Childline can be contacted on 1800 666 666 or by texting 'talk' to 50101; those who want to contact Connect can do so, free, on 1800 477 477.

Irish Independent

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