Working together to keep children connected – a good news story
Sometimes you hear of a good news story and the new partnership between ISPCC Childline and Vodafone is very much one of those.
Childline is a listening service in Ireland run by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children that takes over 400,000 calls from children and teenagers annually. That is a lot of calls and for the children that use it, it’s vitally important that they have a free, reliable and high-quality service when they need it.
To date, Childline has been a phone-led service. In today’s world, it’s imperative that the service keeps up with children’s changing communications needs. That’s why the ISPCC is delighted to team up with Vodafone in a partnership that will ensure that children can connect with Childline in any way they choose – whether that’s calls, instant messaging, or text – and access the service at any time, day or night. Through the partnership, the charity will be in a position to develop a new total communications infrastructure which will improve children’s access to Childline and provide a 24-hour online digital platform.
“It’s probably the biggest partnership the organisation has ever had,” says Grainia Long, CEO of the ISPCC. “We answer over 400,000 calls per year. We’ve seen both the type of calls we receive and the way children want to get in touch with us change over the years. We’re seeing younger children wanting to get in touch but also children wanting to contact us via text and our webchat service”
Childline is a service that connects children, Vodafone is a global telecoms, Internet services and technology solutions provider so it seems the perfect fit.
“The Vodafone Foundation exists within Vodafone globally to work with charities and partnerships as a vehicle to give back to societies and communities as a whole. As we went through the process of establishing what organisation we could support in a truly meaningful way, it became really clear that Childline was a partnership that was a natural fit. Together we have pledged to keep children safe by keeping them connected,” says Jonathan Rutherford, Vodafone's Head of Enterprise Customer Solutions.
“As well as working with Childline to help transform their communications platforms, we are developing an app to connect children with the services they need and supporting children who experience bullying online by making cyber-safety resources available to parents and children, including our BeStrong modules. We really believe in the transformative power of technology and how it can bring people together, so we believe this partnership is a perfect fit and we have a lot to offer Childline to support their mission.”
“The partnership between Vodafone and Childline brings together the best of both organisations. Obviously Vodafone is an organisation that connects people, they have huge resources, a powerful brand, technical expertise and a top-class, reliable network,” says Grainia.
“We have very long conversations with children so it’s vitally important that the call doesn’t drop. Any volunteer will tell you the most important thing is to keep the child on the line and it can be difficult so a secure connection is really important.
“This is year one of our five year partnership. As well as the technology support, Vodafone is providing the charity with €2 million in funding from the Vodafone Foundation and meeting the cost of all our calls for ten years. That’s a huge investment and we’re thrilled with that,” says Grania.
Grainia concludes “Our Childline volunteers have the most important job imaginable. They are there 24 hours a day to answer every call or text and help any child that needs them. They listen. They reassure every child that their issue is important, that they have the right to be heard, to feel safe. We never give up on a child. Ever. But for every child who reaches us, there are many more who cannot. Some don’t know we are there. Some have called, but can’t get through. Some might want to chat to us online during the night but at the moment – we’re not there. Through the partnership, we are confident that, with Vodafone’s support every child in Ireland will know that we are there, on their terms, whenever they need us.”