Volunteers with Childline, Ireland’s 24-hour active listening service for children and young people, answered 723 calls, online contacts and texts on Christmas Day and Night.
The impact of Covid-19 restrictions appeared to intensify challenges for children and young people across Ireland this Christmas, with mental health difficulties, family tension and isolation among the issues discussed with volunteers.
Domestic violence and the impact of excessive alcohol intake were issues that were also raised on the helpline.
Childline is a free service, available 24 hours a day, every day, to every child and young person up to the age of 18 in Ireland.
The service answered 615 calls, texts and online messages between midnight on Christmas Eve and midnight on Christmas Night, along with 108 contacts across all service options combined between midnight on Christmas Night and 6am on St Stephen’s Day.
35 volunteers gave their time on Christmas Day to ensure the service remained active for any child or young person who needed it.
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ISPCC Chief Executive John Church said: “While many homes fill with love and warmth on Christmas Day, we know from the children who turn to Childline that the magic of the season does not reach every child.
“For some, what ought to have been the most joyful of times can be the most frightening. Tensions are heightened and children were left feeling lonely, upset and afraid.
“Never before has a year presented so many challenges to so many children. They have borne the brunt of huge upheaval, with extended school closures, separation from their grandparents and other loved ones and more. In many cases, there has been anxiety at every turn – and they have picked up on this.
“We are hugely grateful to our exceptional Childline volunteers across the country who have helped to make sure that every child and young person has somewhere they can turn 24 hours a day, every day, at this critical time.
“Our volunteers are extraordinary individuals who give up their time with their loved ones throughout the holiday season to make sure no child has to face their challenges alone.
“It was particularly striking yesterday for our service to hear from children and young people contacting us to thank us for having been there for them this year when they may have felt as though there was nowhere else they could turn.
“They spoke about how they are now hopeful that 2021 will be a better year for us all. Contacting Childline can be life-changing for a child or young person – our volunteers make that difference.
“None of this would be possible without the sustained generosity of the general public, who have stepped in at a time when many of the vital fundraisers on which we rely each year could not take place.
“We are sincerely grateful to all of the individuals, communities, creatives, schools, corporates and everyone who supported us throughout 2020 and helped make sure Childline was always here for every child and young person.”
To support ISPCC Childline and help volunteers continue to answer calls from children and young people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 2021 and beyond, visit www.ispcc.ie/Christmas.
Childline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to any child or young person up to the age of 18 in Ireland.
Childline can be reached by:
- Calling: 1800 66 66 66
- Chatting online at: Childline.ie
- Sending a text to: 50101