Childline answered over 70,000 contacts during peak Covid-19 restrictions

Service saw an increase of over 100% in users on its website

Longford Leader reporter

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Childline answered over 70,000 contacts during peak Covid-19 restrictions

Children and young people turned to Childline to talk about issues affecting their lives including domestic violence, abuse, suicide ideation, self-harm, mental health difficulties and anxieties

Childline, Ireland’s 24-hour active listening service for children and young people, answered 72,701 calls, online contacts and texts from children and young people in County Longford and across the country during the period of peak Covid-19 restrictions.

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The organisation has extended gratitude to the people of County Longford and to supporters and volunteers across the country for the generosity extended which helped to keep the service open to children and young people 24 hours a day, every day, throughout the critical past few months.

Between the week ending March 15, the week in which schools closed, and the week ending June 28, the last day before many aspects of life in Ireland were re-opened, children and young people turned to Childline to talk about issues affecting their lives including domestic violence, abuse, suicide ideation, self-harm, mental health difficulties, anxieties in relation to Covid-19 and more.

The Childline.ie website experienced an increase of over 100% in the number of users of the site throughout this period, compared with the same time in 2019. This peaked during the weekend of March 27 – March 29, when the most severe of restrictions were introduced.

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The ISPCC’s Childline listening service is a free, non-judgmental and non-directive service, available 24 hours a day, every day, to every child and young person up to the age of 18 in Ireland by phone, online and by text. The service listens to and supports children and young people – regardless of what might be on their mind. Childline works to strengthen children and young people’s resilience to help them cope with whatever challenges they encounter in life.

ISPCC Chief Executive John Church said: “For many families across the country, this unprecedented period brought significant changes to their day-to-day lives, their routines and their access to extended family members, friends and other supports. Many lost loved ones to Covid-19, many saw family members and friends contract the virus and many worried for the health and wellbeing of themselves and others – particularly those most susceptible.

“While many children enjoyed spending time in the love and warmth of their family, for others this was a frightening time in which they were at home with their tormentor 24 hours a day, every day. More and more children and young people began turning to Childline for support online – they may not have felt comfortable having their conversation overheard at home.

“The last few weeks have shown us that abuse, mental health difficulties and other issues do not stop in a pandemic. In many cases, they are experienced more acutely. Since schools closed on March 12, children and young people have needed Childline more than ever.

“Our wonderful Childline volunteers and staff have continued to ensure there is always support available to every child and young person, no matter what may be on their mind. We are extremely grateful to all in our units across Ireland who kept our online, phone and text services open throughout.

“Once restrictions came into place, it became clear that all of the vital fundraising activities on which Childline depends each year would have to be put on hold. To all of the individuals, communities, corporate supporters, media supporters, creatives and everyone who has helped to keep Childline listening, thank you. You help Childline make a difference for children and young people – the service couldn’t be here without you.

“We welcome the significant statement made by the new government in recent days, with the announcement that children will continue to have a voice at the cabinet table and the appointment of Roderic O’Gorman TD as Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. Our organisation looks forward to working with Minister O’Gorman and colleagues on progressing important matters of child protection over the months and years ahead.

“Children and young people and their families will meet challenges as Ireland re-builds and recovers following Covid-19 and many will need support. It is vital that Childline remains accessible 24 hours a day, but this will only be possible with public and corporate donations. If you can help, please visit ispcc.ie/donate-now. Thank you.”

Childline is available to every child and young person up to the age of 18 in County Longford and across Ireland 24 hours a day, every day. It can be contacted online at Childline.ie, by calling 1800 66 66 66 or by texting to 50101.