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'We've told children we're here for them 24/7 - if charity crisis continues we won't be'

Ahead of the charity’s AGM in Dublin today, the ISPCC said it is now at breaking point and could be forced to close Childline at night – when children need them most.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

Updated 22:55

THE ISPCC HAS said today that it may be forced to cut Childline operating hours if the drop in donations due to the Rehab and CRC scandals continues.

Speaking ahead of the charity’s AGM this morning, Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services, said there was an “immediate dramatic drop” in income when the controversies arose and income is now down 20 per cent so far this year.

Childline costs €3.8 million a year to run and most of this has to be raised through donations. Some 664,000 calls were made to the helpline last year.

“If this trend continues, we are not going to be in a position to provide the services that we are at the moment,” she told reporters. “We have cut salaries, we have cut costs, we have cut all administrative costs, we’ve had redundancies and we really have nowhere else to go in terms of cost savings so out only place now is services.”

She said the majority of children call the helpline after 6pm and if the charity can not raise more money, the now 24 hour service will have to close overnight because they don’t have volunteers available at that time so that is when costs are at their highest.

“We’re looking at closing at 10 at night, when children are at their most vulnerable and very much alone and have nowhere,” she said.

Monica Rowe, who is a Childline volunteer and fundraiser for the ISPCC, said this is the time when children “can get under the covers with the phone and be heard”, especially for children who are being abused.

Am I to say “You know something – put that hurt on hold – ring us when the service is actually open”? That appals me – the thought of it appals me. I can’t even explain how much it does because we’ve told our kids for the last four years “We’re here for you 24/7″ and now we’re about to say to them “You know something, we’re not”.

Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

Rose Cross, who sought help from the ISPCC with her daughter, said she “would not be the child she is today” without the charity.

She commented that children are now under immense pressure and “take on a lot of adult worries”. “I actually got my daughter back,” she said, adding that she was concerned about what kind of a future would be ahead if any of these vital services have to be cut.

“While everybody else is kind of being looked after with the recession, and you know, looking at everything else happening outside, we can’t forget the children,” she said.

Childline can be reached on 1800 66 66 66 or online.

Originally posted at 12:50.

Read: Childline is at “breaking point” as donations continue to plummet>

Read: Abuse, violence, mental health: Children in Ireland called for help 664,000 times last year>

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