DON’T LET CHIL­DREN SUF­FER ABUSE LIKE I DID

MAN ABUSED 60 YEARS AGO TELLS HIS MOV­ING STORY AS M.E.N. AND THE NSPCC LAUNCH CAM­PAIGN TO HELP MAKE SURE KIDS TO­DAY ARE SAFE

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - By BETH ABBIT news­desk@men-news.co.uk @MENnews­desk

FOR more than 30 years Child­line has been there for chil­dren and teenagers in need, some of whom are fac­ing their dark­est hours with nowhere else to turn.

How­ever, due to ris­ing de­mand for on­line, evening and night-time coun­selling, Child­line can now only re­spond to three in ev­ery four young peo­ple who need its help.

To help Child­line reach the young peo­ple that are hang­ing up or log­ging off be­fore they can speak to them, the Manch­ester Evening News is call­ing on our read­ers to make a do­na­tion by send­ing a sim­ple text – with just £4 cov­er­ing the cost of a coun­sel­lor re­spond­ing to a child in need.

The NSPCC al­ready helps young­sters from all walks of life who need emo­tional and prac­ti­cal sup­port for is­sues such as abuse, ne­glect and poor men­tal health.

But last year, the char­ity’s ded­i­cated team of call-han­dlers and ex­perts were un­able to re­spond to a to­tal of 175,000 phone calls and on­line chats from young peo­ple, some who are in des­per­ate need of help.

Now Child­line, founded by TV pre­sen­ter Es­ther Rantzen, need your sup­port so they can be there for the one in four chil­dren and teenagers who hang off or log off while be­ing held in a queue.

The NSPCC-sup­ported ser­vice wants the ca­pa­bil­ity to be able to re­spond to tens of thou­sands more young peo­ple who are con­tact­ing them via the web­site or on their phones dur­ing the peak hours of 4pm and 1am.

To do this re­quires em­ploy­ing ex­tra staff to sup­port vol­un­teers to be there when chil­dren and teenagers need them most – all of which comes at a cost of an ex­tra £500,000 per year.

In re­sponse, the M.E.N. is team­ing up with the NSPCC to launch ‘Light Up Christ­mas for Chil­dren’ – a na­tion­wide cam­paign to raise money for Child­line and give all young peo­ple, no mat­ter their cir­cum­stances, the chance of a brighter fu­ture.

The need for Child­line has never been greater, with in­creas­ing num­bers of chil­dren and teenagers con­tact­ing them about men­tal health con­cerns in­clud­ing many who are self-harm­ing and even plan­ning sui­cide.

John Cameron, who is head of helplines at the NSPCC, said: “Child­line is there for chil­dren and teenagers day and night.

“How­ever, devel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy have meant that young peo­ple are now com­mu­ni­cat­ing with us in very dif­fer­ent ways, which is plac­ing the ser­vice un­der real pres­sure. “In par­tic­u­lar we are get­ting more calls later in the evening and many more con­tacts on­line, with these coun­selling ses­sions tak­ing twice as long as those con­ducted over the phone.” Last year al­most 800,000 calls, chats and emails from young peo­ple were put through to Child­line, with 625,000 of those get­ting to speak to a coun­sel­lor.

We are really ex­cited that the Manch­ester Evening News is back­ing our ef­forts John Cameron from the NSPCC

Mr Cameron added: “We are really ex­cited that a great cam­paign­ing news­pa­per like the Manch­ester Evening News is back­ing our ef­forts to get to young peo­ple in need of our help more quickly.

“We would also urge chil­dren and teenagers to keep con­tact­ing us and to al­ways try and wait un­til a coun­sel­lor be­comes avail­able.”

Child­line is also mak­ing a na­tion­wide ap­peal for more vol­un­teer coun­sel­lors, es­pe­cially peo­ple who are will­ing to work in the evenings and overnight when many young peo­ple feel at their most vul­ner­a­ble and are most in need of sup­port and ad­vice.

One Child­line user, Me­lanie, who can­not be iden­ti­fied fur­ther for le­gal rea­sons, ex­plained how the

ser­vice had helped her re­claim her life.

She said: “Be­tween the ages of 12 and 13, I phoned Child­line reg­u­larly as I was be­ing sex­u­ally abused by my god­fa­ther. I was just so glad to be fi­nally shar­ing things with some­one.

“Child­line made me feel con­fi­dent that it wasn’t my fault and helped me to re­alise that I didn’t have to feel ashamed.

“The coun­sel­lors I spoke to just let me talk and it was such a re­lief.

“The way they talked made me feel like they were gen­uinely there for me and like I was im­por­tant.

“Talk­ing to Child­line light­ened the bur­den of keep­ing such a big se­cret. I felt more in con­trol and I was able to get the sup­port I needed on my own terms.”

If you are wor­ried about a child call the NSPCC Helpline’s trained helpline coun­sel­lors for 24/7 help, ad­vice and sup­port on 0808 800 5000 or email: help@nspcc.org.uk.

Call Child­line on 0800 1111 or visit www.child­line.org.uk

PIC­TURE POSED BY MODEL

Child­line can only re­spond to three in four chil­dren be­cause of ris­ing de­mand

Child­line founder Es­ther Rantzen

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