CHILDLINE volunteer Monica Rowe will race to bring in funds for the service which listens when children most need to be heard.
I first volunteered with Childline about three-and-a-half years ago. I had been running an anti-bullying, confidence building course with teenagers for 20 years.
Because of the recession, the schools had cut back on extra curricular courses. I saw Childline as a way to continue to help youngsters.
I love my weekly shift with Childline – it is a chance to work with a lovely bunch of people who are all determined to make the world a better place for our children.
I have found volunteering has impacted many areas of my life. As a mother, it has taught me the importance of listening and not pre-judging what I think is being said to me.
A Childline volunteer generally works one four-hour shift a week (though there are many dedicated volunteers who do much more).
There is an intensive training period before you start answering phones, and the training and support continues throughout a volunteer's time with Childline.
It is rare that a volunteer will know what the outcome of a call is. However, recently I happened to pick up the phone to a child that I had spoken to some months previously.
When I spoke to this child initially, she had been very upset as she was the victim of severe bullying in school.
She simply couldn't see any way out of the 'trap' she was in. She had a great relationship with her mother but didn't want to bother her as she was under a lot of pressure with work.
When I spoke to her recently, it took me some time to realise it was the same girl. She sounded so bubbly.
She told me she had written a letter to her mother, telling her how she felt, and had been very pleasantly surprised by her mum's reaction, which was to apologise for not having noticed how difficult things had been.
They decided to face the problem head on together and it had worked, the bullying has eased considerably. Calls like this make it all worthwhile.
In March 2012, to raise awareness and combat the widespread issue of bullying, the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) developed The Shield – a symbol of protection from bullying that children can easily identify with.
Every day ISPCC volunteers and staff work as shields; protecting, supporting and listening to children. Our anti-bullying services provide c hildren and young people with the necessary coping skills to deal with and protect themselves from bullying.
Standing up against bullying is not something that we can do alone – everyone has a part to play in highlighting this important issue.
For more information go to www.ispcc.ie