ChildLine inundated with festive ‘cries for help’

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ChildLine counsellors in Derry dealt with hundreds of “cries for help” from kids over the Christmas holidays.

In all, ChildLine centres in Derry and Belfast counselled 639 children and young people between Christmas Eve and January 4.

These calls, say ChildLine, were from children across the North and in Britain.

And, for the first time ever, more of these contacts took place online than by phone.

ChildLine says the main reason why children accessed support was for issues relating to their emotional wellbeing and family relationships. Other top reasons included bullying and self harm.

One young person who contacted ChildLine in Foyle said: “I went to my GP and they confirmed I am pregnant and I don’t know how to tell my mum. She has always said that I shouldn’t have children young but I have been with my boyfriend a while and we both want this baby. What do I do?”

Across the North and in Britain, there was a significant rise in counselling sessions related to self-harm, an issue which increased overall from the same period last year by 41 per cent and by 86 per cent for the 12-15 year-old age group.

More children were also counselled about emotional abuse and eating problems and, for the first time, suicide featured in the top five concerns during Christmas, increasing by 64% in the past year.

Sharon Bayliss, of ChildLine Northern Ireland, said the organisation was a “vital lifeline” for thousands of young people in desperate need of support and advice - often on very complex and sensitive issues.

She said: “Christmas can be a particularly difficult for vulnerable young people and a general lack of services and support during this time can make everything feel more difficult to resolve.”

The ChildLine base in Foyle is currently recruiting volunteers. For more information, call 0870 336 2945 or email nireland@childline.org.uk.