Childline in Scotland’s biggest city is urgently appealing for volunteers to become counsellors as the cost-of-living crisis increases pressures on young people.
The counselling service for children has fewer volunteers than it needs as numbers dropped by 40% during the pandemic when people had to self-isolate and were unable to attend the Glasgow centre.
It comes as the cost-of-living crisis puts many families under added stress, which can have an impact on young people’s mental health and family relationships.
The service, run by child protection charity National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), needs volunteers for its Glasgow centre so it can continue to be there for children 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On average, a young person contacts Childline every 25 seconds.
Margaret Anne McKay, Childline Glasgow team manager, urged people to volunteer.
She said: “The cost-of-living crisis, or anything else that puts pressure on families, is bound to have an impact on children.
“The level of tension can cause family relationship issues, the opportunities the young person is able to pursue can be more limited and the anxiety around potential changes in living circumstances can be upsetting.”
She added: “Volunteers feel really privileged to be at the other end of a phone call when a child has chosen to open up and speak to them.
“At the end of a shift, volunteers often say, ‘Thank God I was there today for that young person’, and who knows what would have happened to that child if they hadn’t had someone to speak to.
“This is not only an opportunity to do something really worthwhile, it’s also great for personal growth and development, and it’s an impressive thing to add to someone’s CV.”
The NSPCC provides full training to Childline counsellors and supervisors are always on hand to guide the counsellors through contacts with a child.
Initial training is online, so volunteers need a computer and basic technical knowledge, although some guidance will be available.
Counsellors are asked to commit to one four-and-a-half-hour shift per week (or 40 shifts a year) and to attend all the initial training sessions, regular development workshops and supervisions.
Eoin Carey, 36, a photographer from Glasgow, has been a volunteer counsellor at the Glasgow Childline centre for a year.
After unexpectedly becoming a father six years ago, he discovered he felt comfortable talking to young people and has enjoyed making a difference by volunteering.
He said: “After many of the chats I’ve had with a young person they tell me they feel better and they’re so grateful to me for talking with them. It’s hugely satisfying to have a conversation and to hear them come to their own conclusions and find solutions.
“Often, they have no-one else to turn to and feel really isolated, sometimes struggling with their own emotions or mental health. It’s massively meaningful to be able to be there for them.
“In so many ways what is required from a counsellor is really straightforward. It’s a big dose of common sense and compassion, and most people have that.”
Sandra Gordon, 63, from West Calder, became a volunteer Childline counsellor in 1999 and finds the role rewarding.
She said: “Young people’s challenges have changed so much from when I started, due to social media and the internet.
“It’s one of the things I love about the role, you learn something every day.
“They don’t know who I am, so it feels like such a privilege when they want to share what’s happening with them.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more at nspcc.org.uk/support-us/volunteering-nspcc-childline/volunteer-childline-helpline/
Source: The Herald