Childline says they are ‘desperate’ for volunteers to be trained at their Glasgow and Aberdeen bases as volunteers drop by 40% and their helpline continues to see a rising increase due to the pandemic impacting young people’s mental health.
In Scotland, only 157 people are currently volunteers, missing the 2019/20 target of 261 by 40%.
According to the NSPCC, the charity which runs Childline, the drop since lockdown began in March is due to volunteers self- isolating, shielding as well as a reduction in staff coming in to centres due to social distancing rules.
The NSPCC says they are ‘desperate’ for volunteers for evening and weekend shifts in Glasgow and Aberdeen where their main Childline bases in Scotland are.
A NSPCC spokesperson in Scotland said that the charity will need at least another 100 volunteers to ensure they can provide the support needed.
The drop in available call handlers follows an increase in the number calls from young people impacted by coronavirus.
Between April and December, the NSPCC recorded an 82% rise across the UK in the number of contacts made about children experiencing emotional abuse, compared to pre-lockdown levels 3.
In Scotland, the number of contacts about mental and emotional health was 3,112.
Speaking on BBC GMS this morning, Leanne Ferries Childline Service Manager in Aberdeen said that the charity is ‘definitely’ worried the rise in calls and drop in volunteers will prevent young people getting through to the charity.
She said: “We’ve got queues every night at the moment and young people are at school at the moment which means we’ve got an increase in phone calls during the day so the more people we have the more young people we can help.
“We are a life saving service- that’s the bottom line really.
“As you can imagine it’s a really scary time for young people especially during lockdown, we’ve seen a rise in calls in that time because obviously it’s a time where young people are isolated.”
The First Minister announced yesterday that it is ‘very unlikely’ that the full lockdown in Scotland be lifted at the end of the month.
Commenting on the tighter restrictions potentially remaining. Ms Ferries said: “That’s going to have an impact on young people’s mental health and what we need to do is have a long term recovery and support plan for young people because we don’t want this generation to be defined the pandemic or by lockdown so the more specialist support we can put in place for the future the better.”
Childline also offer an email service which arose during lockdown, where young people can talk via email to a counsellor remotely.
All training for counselling volunteers is currently taking place online with an average duration of 12 weeks.
Ms Ferries said: “Any age can volunteer- we have people from aged 16 and our oldest volunteer at the moment is 102. As long as you’ve got a desire to help young people and you’ve got a good listening ear we can train you to do the rest.”
People can sign up to be a volunteer on the NSPCC website under ‘Get Involved’ and there is also on offer virtual meetings where people can get an idea of what it is like to volunteer with the charity.
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