Christmas is a magical time of year for most children across Foyle but sadly there are some for whom it can be an incredibly difficult and lonely time.
ChildLine have announced figures which show the free, confidential, 24-hour helpline and online service provided by the NSPCC, is expecting counsellors at its base in Foyle to carry out 457 counselling sessions from children and young people across the UK this month.
In December last year, the Foyle base received 63 contacts about family relationship issues, which could be anything from worries relating to parents separating to arguments with family members and wanting to leave home or go into care.
Trained volunteers also carried out 40 counselling sessions about bullying and online bullying. They saw a worrying trend towards children contacting the service with concerns that posed a serious risk to their lives, including 29 about suicide and 50 about self-harm.
One child who contacted ChildLine in Foyle2 last Christmas told a counsellor: “My parents treat me differently to my siblings so I find Christmas difficult. I see how spoilt they get and how much more time they have spent on them which makes me really upset.
“I tried speaking to my dad about it once but it turned into a big argument so I regretted saying anything. I don’t want to ruin Christmas by being down and miserable but I’m not happy. I don’t know what to do.”
ChildLine counsellor Donna Fulton will be volunteering on Christmas day this year in the Foyle base.
She said: “I am very lucky to have my friends and family around me this Christmas, and couldn’t imagine being in a position where I feel alone and miserable.
“I volunteered last year on Christmas Day and, although it can be difficult taking calls on what is supposed to be such a happy occasion, being able to offer advice and support to those children and young people who needed us was such privilege. I’m really fortunate to be able to do the same this year.”
The NSPCC has launched its Christmas Call for Help Appeal to ensure that trained counsellors can continue to listen to children and young people who need to talk, even on Christmas Day. Visit www.nspcc.org.uk or text HOPE to 70744 to donate £4 and help answer a call to ChildLine.