ISPCC Childline has welcomed the announcement of plans for children’s return to school later this month in Mayo and across the country and outlined details of support for parents, carers, children and young people preparing for the transition back to the classroom.
The organisation, which provides a range of services directly to children, young people and families in Ireland, including the Childline listening service, experienced a surge in demand for support when schools across the country first closed in March as a result of restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Childline answered over 72,000 online contacts, calls and texts from children and young people in Mayo and across Ireland between the week in which schools closed in March and the last week in June. Many of those who contacted the service did so to talk about how they were anxious to return to school, missed their friends and daily routines and worried about exams and related issues.
Themes which will be of key importance to families preparing for the return to primary school next month, Childline stated, include building resilience, communicating clearly, seeking and accepting support and enhancing capacity to cope.
The development of these personal resources will be central to free ‘Transition Back to School’ webinars, which the service is set to deliver to parents, carers, children and young people on Monday August 17th and Tuesday August 18th.
The organisation will also extend the hours of its Support Line service for three weeks from Monday August 17 to Friday September 4, making the service available to parents, carers and members of the public from 9am to 5pm each day. The ISPCC Childline Support Line provides information, advice and emotional support in relation to children’s welfare and wellbeing.
ISPCC Childline Director of Services Caroline O’Sullivan said: "Children and young people’s lives in Mayo and across the world have been turned upside down this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"School is a sanctuary to many – it is not only where they learn, but also often the place where they make and meet friends and access support.
"When they return later this month, however, it will be over five months since they will have been in classrooms. This year’s ‘back-to-school’ experience will be like no other.
"Children, young people, parents and carers will face challenges over the months ahead as Ireland emerges from this difficult time. Enhancing our capacity to cope with change and strengthening our resilience – often referred to as the ability to ‘bounce back’ – will be important for us all.
"ISPCC Childline works to support, empower and strengthen children and young people’s resilience to enable them to live their best possible lives and to cope with any challenges which come their way.
"On Monday August 17 and Tuesday August 18, we will share our services’ insight into strengthening children and young people’s resilience to help them cope with change – and, in this case, with the transition back to the school environment following over five months of closure.
"Parents and carers are invited to attend a free one-hour webinar event on Monday evening, August 17, from 7.30pm – and then to attend a follow-up session with their child, if they are an incoming 5th or 6th class pupil, on Tuesday evening, August 18, from 7.30pm. For more information, or to register to take part, see ispcc.ie Places are limited, so parents and carers are advised to sign up early to confirm their attendance.
"Childline will be here for every child and young person in Ireland, by phone, online chat and text, every day and night, as they prepare for the return to school and always.
"Any child or young person can reach Childline by calling 1800 66 66 66, chatting online at Childline.ie or texting to 50101. Further support and information content, around returning to school and other issues, is also available at Childline.ie "
“We are also extending the hours of the ISPCC Childline Support Line service during this period, to help ensure parents and carers have somewhere they can turn too. Details of the service are updated daily and can be accessed at ispcc.ie/ispcc-support-line ”