Have you ever considered offering a listening ear to a child or young person who seeks support?
People from all walks of life come together in Galway each week with a common cause: to help ensure every child and young person in Ireland always has somewhere to turn.
Ireland’s national listening service for children and young people up to the age of 18 is now calling out to anyone who feels they may be in a position to help the service.
Volunteers with Childline listen to, support and empower children across Ireland who make contact in relation to all sorts of issues which may be on their minds. The service answers over 310,000 contacts every year via phone call, online chat and text.
Amongst the local cohort of Childline volunteers are Children’s Studies student Sinead McGrath, psychiatric nursing student Ann Marie and Cavan native and Galway city resident Kathleen Myles Thornton.
Ann Marie first became motivated to help Childline listen to children when she was a teenager herself. She waited until she turned 18 to apply and has now been a volunteer with the service for the past five years.
She believes the fact that Childline is free, anonymous and non-directive makes it a vital service for many children and young people.
“The way we communicate with children is unique – the child is always in control. They really open up to you.
“The best thing I think we can ever give anyone in our lives is our time. No matter what age you are, or where you’re from, we all need someone to listen.
“There is a great rapport here at Childline too and a great spirit of supporting one another. As a Shift Mentor, I help provide assistance and support to my fellow volunteers throughout their shift.
“I would advise anyone thinking of volunteering with Childline in Galway or at any other unit to head along to an information evening and apply. You don’t need to have any previous experience or qualifications as full training, support and upskilling is provided.”
Sinead McGrath first became involved with Childline when she was looking for a student placement as part of her course at NUIG. She knew she had an interest in children’s wellbeing and so seized the chance to volunteer at Childline when an opportunity arose.
“From day one I found the people involved with Childline were really helpful. I learned so much from the training course and always felt I could ask a question. It’s a really open environment.
“All of the contacts we answer are unique, just like every child. We don’t know anything about the children who contact us and we don’t make any judgement based on what they say. We are here to be an anonymous and confidential listening ear and to empower those who seek our support,” she said.
Kathleen Myles Thornton became familiar with the ISPCC through her work in the area of child protection.
“I saw an advertisement and I thought it would be good to volunteer, to take that call,” she said.
A volunteer for the past seven years, Kathleen also gives up four hours each week to listen to children who wish to talk about all sorts of issues.
“The hardest contacts to answer are those from children in real distress, though we also get contacts from children who may not be dealing with an immediate difficulty and are just keen to chat about how their day went.
“With the busy nature of the world today, some children don’t have anyone at home who they feel they can talk to.
“As volunteers with Childline we get an insight into some of the issues facing children and young people in Ireland today. One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years is that more children are telling me they are confused or unsure about something they have seen online. It is so important that children’s voices are heard,” Kathleen said, referencing how issues raised anonymously by children who contact Childline often go on to influence the work of the ISPCC’s policy team which advocates for positive changes in laws and policies affecting the lives of children in Ireland.
Information evenings are taking place for anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering with Childline in Galway.
Those who would like to attend should contact Childline Regional Supervisor Kathleen O’Riordan by calling 091 549103 or emailing to Kathleen.O’[email protected]