Posted: Mon 19th Dec 2022

North Wales Childline volunteers sacrifice Christmas break to provide counselling for children and young people

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Dec 19th, 2022

While many people will be celebrating the Christmas break with their friends and families at home this year, some will be giving up their time to support children and young people by providing counselling at Childline.

The build up to Christmas and the New Year can be a busy time for Childline’s 12 bases across the UK and its virtual base.  Between April 2021 and March 2022, as many as 15,515 counselling sessions were held with children who spoke out about the abuse they had suffered. 

In 2,267 of those sessions, children revealed abuse for the first time. And of these, one in five disclosures took place during December 2021 and January 2022.

Among the volunteers working at the NSPCC’s Childline base in Prestatyn over Christmas this year are Sandy Collyer, David Dudley-Smith and Abigail Mainon. 

Sandy, from Northop in Flintshire, who has a background in education and has spent most of her working life with children, has been volunteering at the Prestatyn base for almost 11 years.

She said: “Christmas can be such a hard time for so many children and young people, nothing like the happy, cosy, festive images they see on television, and while Childline can be a lifeline at any time of year, it can be even more so at Christmas. 

“Having someone to talk to, who listens, believes, and doesn’t judge, can mean everything. For some young people we may be the first person they have talked to, who has listened, shown interest and cares. 

“For others, it can be easier to talk to someone they don’t know, a stranger, who isn’t involved in their lives and what they’re going through.”

Sandy, who was an NSPCC key worker during the pandemic doing two shifts a week during both lockdowns, is looking forward to her Boxing Day shift this year.

“It was never an option for me to cancel my shift this Boxing Day. When a child feels brave enough to trust me to talk to, I feel very privileged. Childline is so important to me that I cannot imagine not having it in my life.  Volunteering for Childline is definitely the best thing I have ever done.”

Meanwhile, it will be the third time that Abigail, from Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire, will be volunteering for Childline on Christmas Day. 

“People associate Christmas with happy families, gifts and tables full of food, but that is not always the case for our young people,” Abigail said. 

“While I cannot fix these issues directly or give every child the Christmas they deserve, I can give them my time.

“Children may call around Christmas for lots of different reasons; perhaps missing a loved one that has passed, conflict in the home, or sometimes it could just be they are feeling lonely and want someone to talk to.

“Volunteering for Childline is such a privilege, the team in Prestatyn are supportive and welcoming and you get to meet other volunteers from all walks of life, all coming together to support our young people. I would encourage anyone who can spare a few hours in their week to get involved.”

David, from Rhyl, who has been volunteering for Childline for five years, said in his experience, Christmas can be a time when children need more support. 

He said: “We think of Christmas as a magical time for children, but it is not always a happy time for young people. 

“Money worries can cause tension in the home, adding to already strained relationships. 

“Young people can also feel isolated during the extended break from school, missing their friends or being without the usual sources of support, such as teachers or social workers they rely on us. 

“Childline is always there for children who need us, and the importance of being a volunteer is highlighted even more over the festive period. 

“I often finish a shift in awe of the young people I’ve spoken to – their intelligence, maturity, their self-awareness, their aspirations, their courage, their resilience, and frequently their humour.”  

Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 or alternatively get in touch at  www.childline.org.uk.

Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC Helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or visit www.nspcc.org.uk for advice.

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