The "vital lifeline" for children in Cornwall worried about coronavirus

4 minute read
The "vital lifeline" for children in Cornwall worried about coronavirus

Published at 6:42am 21st April 2020. (Updated at 10:36am 21st April 2020)

A vital appeal has launched to help thousands of children in places like Cornwall, who are worried about coronavirus.

Childline says it has had thousands of calls from youngsters who are struggling during lockdown.

The NSPCC is reminding people that its "vital lifeline" is available for those who need it, as the government restrictions are extended.

Over 1,700 counselling sessions have been carried out about the issue in the last three weeks alone, bringing the new total up to more than 2,200 since the end of January.

Despite Childline having to close the night service for the first time and having a 30% drop in volunteer hours, due to counsellors having to self-isolate, it is battling to still be there for children across the UK. 

The NSPCC, which runs Childline, says it is growing increasingly concerned about the number of children who will experience abuse or neglect due to the impact of coronavirus, with families struggling with lockdown, job losses and school closures. 
 
During the past week Childline has delivered 363 counselling sessions where children have experienced physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect - up nearly a fifth from the week before. Counselling sessions about physical and emotional abuse increased by 36% and 31% respectively during this time.

A 15-year-old girl told Childline: 

"I am not happy at home. My parents are physically abusing me - it's happening quite often now since schools closed and I'm really scared. They hit me and often it leaves me with bruises but they don't stay for long.

"I really want to get out of the house and be somewhere safe and happy. I'm scared that my parents will get angry and hurt me more if I tell someone."

Michelle Green runs the Schools Service in primary schools across Cornwall

The urgent appeal from the NSPCC:

To continue to support children during this challenging period, and to adapt to the ever- changing situation, the NSPCC has launched its emergency appeal 'We're still here for children'. 

The NSPCC is urging the public to visit its website and donate £10 to help fund vital services like Childline, so the charity can continue to answer calls and be here for the young people who desperately need someone to talk to, especially when home isn't a safe place.  

In the South West, the NSPCC's Schools Service team is adapting the way it works to support Childline whilst schools remain closed. 

The team, and mascot Buddy, have become familiar faces in primary schools across the region, delivering the charity's 'Speak out. Stay safe' assemblies and workshops that are offered free of charge. 

With the schools closed for the foreseeable future staff members who usually deliver the service have been retrained to help the charity's Childline service which continues to be inundated by worried children and young people. 

In the past few weeks Childline has heard from children whose parents have lost their jobs and are under growing financial pressure, as well as from young carers struggling to look after their siblings whilst their parents fall sick with Coronavirus symptoms. Childline is also hearing from children who have had suicidal thoughts and talk about feeling trapped and isolated.

"The world is an unfamiliar and very frightening place for thousands of children across the UK at the moment. We know that school no longer provides the sanctuary it once did and many young people are having to face unprecedented challenges at home without the vital support networks that normally surround them.

"Childline is more crucial than ever as a safe way children can reach out for help. We really are, as one volunteer counsellor told me, the fourth emergency service.

"Now more than ever we must continue to be there for the young people who desperately need us, no matter what. We don't know what other challenges lie ahead, but we want to be prepared to weather any storm so that we can be there for children."

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline

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