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NSPCC: "We're Still Here For Children"

Childline has revealed a huge increase in the number of young people contacting them for support through the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1700 counselling sessions have been held in the last three weeks, despite having to close its night service for the first time and suffering a 30% drop in volunteer hours because so many have had to self-isolate.

363 counselling sessions have been delivered in the last week, up around a fifth on the week before. Sessions about physical and emotional abuse also went up by 36% and 31% respectively.

Despite the added pressure on resources and a drop in volunteer numbers because of the pandemic, the NSPCC, which runs Childline, has launched an emergency appeal to say 'we're still here for children'.

The charity is asking islanders to donate £10 to help fund its services, particularly as concerns grow for the number of children who will experience abuse or neglect because of the impact of families struggling with the likes of lockdown, job losses and school closures.

Michelle Green works for the NSPCC's Schools Service, but as schools are closed, she's volunteered to become a Childline counsellor.

"Sometimes home is not a happy place for children and that’s what makes Childline so important. It is vital that children know that Childline is still there for them to support them.

"Many of the children contacting Childline are worried right now. I’ve heard from young people mainly about feeling isolated as they are away from friends, but also about relatives that they are really worried about.

"Some children have key workers as parents and carers and they are worried about them and their health.

"Most of all children just feel so uncertain about what’s happening in the future, which is why they need a trusted adult they can talk to and support them through this crisis.

"At Childline we are still here and we are ready to listen to children and young people."

Childline says it has heard from children whose parents have lost their jobs, young carers struggling to look after their siblings and children who talk about being scared or isolated.

"I am not happy at home. My parents are physically abusing me - it's happening quite often now since schools closed and I'm really scared. They hit me and often it leaves me with bruises but they don’t stay for long. I really want to get out of the house and be somewhere safe and happy. I'm scared that my parents will get angry and hurt me more if I tell someone." - 15-year-old girl.

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen says the service is as crucial now as ever.

"The world is an unfamiliar and very frightening place for thousands of children across the UK at the moment. We know that school no longer provides the sanctuary it once did and many young people are having to face unprecedented challenges at home without the vital support networks that normally surround them. Childline is more crucial than ever as a safe way children can reach out for help. We really are, as one volunteer counsellor told me, the fourth emergency service.

"Now more than ever we must continue to be there for the young people who desperately need us, no matter what. We don’t know what other challenges lie ahead, but we want to be prepared to weather any storm so that we can be there for children. That is why we are urging the public to get behind our very important emergency appeal and donate £10 so that we can provide essential support."

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