Childline volunteers in Galway answered 200 calls on Christmas Day, one fifth of the total calls, texts and emails received then from children all over the country.
The local volunteers with the ISPCC’s service - which offers support to children and young people - answered more than 1,700 calls in all during the two week holiday period, the busiest Christmas in 22 years.
The level of contacts on Christmas Day 2010 represents an 11 per cent rise on the same day last year. This increase reflects the escalating demand for all ISPCC services throughout 2010.
“For most children, Christmas is a time to have fun and spend time with family, says Marie Keeley, Childline’s regional supervisor. “For others however, the reality is very different and Christmas is a time to fear as it is about surviving in extremely unsafe circumstances. Christmas can bring unwelcome stress and trauma; their family may not be around, they may be subjected to more abuse, violence and isolation.”
Local volunteer Catherine Wall who was answering calls on the helpline on Christmas Dsay says many children who got in touch were frightened.
“The preconceived notion would be that children would be calling Childline on Christmas day to moan about not getting the latest craze in games machines, etc. But the reality was that many children called because they were scared or bored or weren’t having the storybook Christmas that everyone wants to have.”
Childline Galway is urgently recruiting volunteers to give time to young people on a weekly basis for 2011.
“What we really need are people who have a genuine commitment to supporting children and young people and who can listen with warmth, patience, and an open mind. Volunteers do not need any previous experience as full training and support is provided.”
She says the charity is keen to acknowledge the “tremendous work, commitment and dedication” of its volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring about positive change in children and young people’s lives.
“The ISPCC is aiming to continue to provide this vital service to all young people nationwide. As Childline receives no Government funding it is through the dedication of our volunteers and donations from the public that it is able to provide the only 24 hour listening service for young people.”
People interested in volunteering are invited to attend information evenings which take place tonight (Thursday ) and next week January 20 from 7pm to 8.30pm at The Galway Centre for Independent Living, Tuam Road, Galway. For further information contact Marie Keeley at (091 ) 752387 or [email protected]