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Column: Childline is the only option for some - that's why we volunteer

Volunteering with Childline can be challenging and difficult at times, write a group of volunteers from Childline Cork, who say although it can be heart-wrenching it is worth it.

A group of volunteers from Childline Cork have written the following piece together…

WE ALL DECIDED to volunteer for Childline because children’s welfare, rights and issues have always been a concern of ours. We felt that we could make a positive difference to the lives of children. We all had the time, interest and commitment needed to be a Childline volunteer.

Our experience with Childline has been incredibly rewarding and the training we were given gave us the opportunity to develop a range of skills, such as communication skills and listening skills.

In the case of callers we may speak to regularly we get the unique experience of watching them progress, be it building confidence, feeling less isolated or hearing that they have found support in their life.

Young people who have no support

We also have become aware of issues that young people deal with, sometimes without having a trusted adult in their lives, and at times without any support at all. It is unacceptable that a child is exposed to neglect, bullying or abuse in any form. Taking the first step to tell someone about their fears or anxieties is both very brave and courageous for a young person to do. Childline is often their only option. We help the caller to see that they have options, while reassuring them that we are always there to listen.

The types of calls that Childline receives are varied and cover a lot of issues. Childline has a huge range of calls, some serious but it is also a place where children can ring to talk about everyday life, such as hobbies or to talk about a football game or dance class they attended. Cyber bullying has become a more prominent issue in the last couple of years.

Needing to talk

An example of a call we have received involved a young girl who had a lot going on for her, she struggled with anxieties, worries, low self-esteem and had a lot going on at home. She felt like Childline was her only option. Here she was able to explore the bigger picture and after a number of calls with us here in Childline she was able to find the support in her own life that she did not realise she had.

Volunteering with Childline can be challenging and difficult at times. Naturally, it is heart-wrenching hearing about the things some children have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It is a concern when a caller has to hang up suddenly as we are aware of the effort and risk some children take to make that call to Childline. But it is important to always bear in mind that even if Childline can make the slightest difference to how a child feels, be it as a support for them or something that takes their mind off any pain, then it is absolutely 100 percent worth it.

Upsetting calls

There is a great bond among all Childline volunteers and the support that we give each other is huge. If we were to receive an upsetting call there is support from a lot of different places. Because we work as a team, our fellow volunteers are the first source of support.

We also have an experienced member of staff who is ‘on call’ at all times to deal with any issue that we may have regarding different calls. We also have an external confidential telephone service that provides support for all Childline volunteers if needed.

There are on-going fundraising efforts by staff and volunteers but due to lack of government funding, donations are hugely needed and appreciated. The reality is that one in every three calls remains unanswered due to the lack of funding. As volunteers we are willing to help by being there for children, but with the public supporting the service through donations, no matter how small, everyone can be part of the effort to make sure all calls are answered.

Volunteering is extremely rewarding, so we would encourage anyone who has the time and interest to support Childline through fundraising or by volunteering for four hours a week, the rewards in doing so are enormous.

If children need support from Childline they can call 1800 666666, Text the word ‘talk’ to 50101 or log onto www.childline.ie

This article was written by Childline volunteers from the Cork Saturday night shift. The organisation is currently highlighting 25 years of Childline, please visit here for more information.

Read: 800,000 calls to Childline in 2012 – but 34 per cent unanswered>

Bullied: Your stories of bullying and its lasting effects>

Column: How parents can help a child who is being bullied>

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About the author:

Childline volunteers, Cork

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