Could you be at the receiving end of a call, text, or online chat when a child reaches out for support?
ISPCC Childline volunteers answer over 1,000 calls, texts and online chats every day from children and young people in County Mayo and across Ireland, who seek someone who will listen.
These children may be lonely, hurt, upset or traumatised, or may simply wish to chat about their summer holidays. Whatever the issue on their mind, Childline volunteers are there for them.
Claremorris woman, Caroline Mullin, is one of several Childline volunteers across Ireland and says giving a few hours of her time each week to Ireland’s national listening service for children and young people has helped to change her life.
Caroline has been volunteering with Childline in Castlebar for almost seven years and says she will continue to do so while there are children in Ireland who need someone to listen.
She is now urging anyone who shares her passion for empowering children to consider volunteering with Childline saying: "The idea of empowering children is the real hook that interested me at first”, Caroline said of how she first became involved with the service. Volunteers with the service come from all walks of life, but all are determined to ensure children and young people in Ireland always have somewhere to turn.
"Childline can be a real lifeline for children. Volunteers actively listen to children and don’t judge them or tell them what to do. This is their safe space, to speak about how they are really feeling and to be supported."
Children and young people can contact Childline through the means with which they are most comfortable – by calling (1800 ) 666666 (24 hours a day ), texting to 50101 (10am to 4am daily ), or chatting online at Childline.ie (10am to 4am daily ).
Among the issues most frequently raised by children making contact with Childline are those around abuse, welfare, mental health, as well as every day issues, as Caroline explained: "All sorts of children contact Childline, about all sorts of issues. One type of contact which surprised me at first is those we receive from children who are sick in hospital and perhaps on their own for periods of time. I’ll never forget a child who was sick, telling me she was so glad she made contact because it helped her to feel calmer and happier. There’s a great power in being able to lift spirits.
"People say ‘you’re great to listen to children’, but in reality I get so much from the experience. It was my fellow volunteers at Childline who encouraged me to take up a counselling course and now I am going into my fourth year studying social care at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT ). I haven’t looked back.
"As soon as you step inside the unit in Castlebar, you get a sense of the great comraderie which exists between all the volunteers here. Some of my fellow volunteers have become good friends. It really is like ‘finding your tribe’.”
ISPCC Childline is now recruiting for volunteers to help answer children’s contacts at the organisation’s Castlebar unit. If you would like to find out more about how you can help to change the lives of children, see ispcc.ie/volunteer-childline or call the ISPCC’s Castlebar office on (094 ) 9025254.