Belfast Telegraph

Paul gives up Christmas to answer children’s calls

Childline volunteer counsellor Paul Sloan will be taking time away from his own family Christmas in Dundonald this year to answer calls from children and young people in need of support.

Over the Christmas period last year, the NSPCC’s ChildLine service in Northern Ireland counselled over 180 children who were in danger or distress and had nowhere else to turn.

Highlighting the importance of a listening ear over the festive period, the Dundonald man said: “I'm lucky enough to be able to spend Christmas with my family, when a lot of people don't have the same good fortune. Spending some of that time offering support to young people is very important, and it doesn’t seem like a lot to give up for people who really need someone to talk to.

“Christmas can be a sad time for some people, and everyone — especially children — deserves attention and someone who will listen.”

Having been a volunteer counsellor for a year now, Paul got involved after attending a Childline information event: “Every week I get a lot of calls on anything from bullying or suicide to sexual and physical abuse. There are also calls where children and young people just want to talk, maybe if they can't sleep, and it’s great that they have that trust in ChildLine.

“One call that stands out for me was when a teenage girl phoned and explained that she had been forced into prostitution by a trusted member of the family. Unfortunately she didn't want to seek help as she was scared to tell the police or do anything about it, so all I could do was listen. Knowing the hardship that some children and young people suffer is one thing, but hearing it directly from them is another.”

Heather Cardosi, ChildLine volunteer coordinator, said: “The NSPCC’s ChildLine service relies heavily on its dedicated volunteers, and we are so appreciative of those who willingly give up part of their Christmas to answer calls from children who are in desperate need of help. Every year the service helps thousands of children and young people to overcome a wide range of problems including bullying, abuse and family relationship worries.

“Our counsellors are caring, non-judgemental and have respect for children and young people. These qualities are vital when dealing with children who are finding Christmas a far from happy time.”

For more information about volunteering with ChildLine go to www.nspcc.org.uk , or ring 0870 336 2945.

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