Childline prepares to support children during their darkest hours at Christmas

  • Childline volunteers in the South East expecting to deliver hundreds of counselling sessions to children and young people over the festive period
  • Actor and Ambassador for Childline Natalie Dormer joined a night shift
  • NSPCC ‘Light For Every Childhood’ Christmas Appeal shines a light on children needing help in December

Childline is preparing to help thousands of young people across the festive period – day and night – including many struggling to cope with mental health problems. 

In 2018/19 the South East Childline base in London delivered 1,363 counselling sessions with children throughout the UK across the 12-day period over Christmas and New Year – with almost 158 of those sessions happening between midnight and 7am.

Nationally, Childline delivered 7,157 counselling sessions over the 12 Days of Christmas – with almost 900 delivered through the night. More than half of those seeking support through the night across the festive period were struggling with mental health issues, self-harm and in the worst cases, suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Hollie Evans, 22 from Dartford contacted Childline in her darkest hour. She suffered with her mental health from a young age and after attempting to take her own life, Hollie spoke to a Childline counsellor for the first time.

Hollie said: “I was hyperventilating and crying. The counsellor started asking me about the things I like to do. Afterwards I was able to talk calmly about what had happened. That chat stopped me from going back to my room and trying again.”

After this, for two and a half years Hollie did not speak to anyone however, whenever she was feeling low she would call Childline.

She added: “If I hadn’t called Childline there is a chance I wouldn’t be here today. In fact, all the progress I have made is thanks to other people’s support, including Childline. Talking to someone saved me and it could save you.”

Helping deliver these vital counselling sessions over Christmas will be Childline Volunteer Michele Baxter. She said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for many different reasons – from family arguments to feeling lonely.

“It can be hard to escape the holiday season sometimes, particularly when some children and young people don’t enjoy Christmas and everyone’s talking about it. But telling someone what their Christmas has been like can help young people feel less alone.

“That is the reason why so many Childline Volunteer Counsellors like myself and my daughter head in to Childline over Christmas so that young people have someone to listen to.”

Helping to shine a light on all the children and young people contacting Childline this Christmas during the darkest hours – and the volunteers who will be supporting them –  is Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer.

The actor and ambassador for Childline who recently visited the service at night, said:

“The calls that came in, to be quite honest, sideswiped me. Within the first 25 minutes there were two suicide calls with counsellors helping the young people through the reoccurring thoughts that were haunting them.”

More than a hundred children and young people received counselling for suicidal thoughts and feelings between midnight and 7am during the 12-day period last Christmas and New Year.

Childline is the only service available to children and young people, whatever their worry, 24/7 throughout the Christmas holidays.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder and President, said:

“Christmas is the time of year we think about children, and most of them are happy, excited and loved. But many of the young people that contact Childline are unhappy, abused and neglected. One of them told me: ‘Christmas is like looking through a window, seeing happy families warm and loved while you are standing outside in the dark and cold.’

“For some young people, Christmas can be the hardest time of year, when their problems feel magnified, making them even more isolated than ever. At Childline we must be there for every young person that needs us. But to achieve this we urgently need the public’s help, which is why it is vital they support the NSPCC Christmas Appeal ‘Light for Every Childhood’.”   

Just £4 pays for Childline to answer a call with a child in need of support, to donate visit the NSPCC website.