“All you need is a passion to support children and young people”
Childline has called on anyone with a passion to do more for children and young people to consider becoming a volunteer at the local base.
The counselling service, which has had a base in Derry since 2007, currently has 43 volunteers.
However, they need more volunteers to help them answer more calls from children and young people who are in need.
As part of the volunteer recruitment campaign, a double decker bus featuring a local volunteer is currently servicing busy routes around the city to encourage people to get involved.
Georgina McGlinchey, service manager of the Foyle base, revealed that the bus is just one of six commissioned by the charity across the UK.
“I get really excited when I see the bus,” she said. “It is generating a lot of interest, raising awareness that Childline has a base here locally and hopefully it will make more people think about becoming a volunteer.”
Georgina said that the children’s counselling session lost a number of volunteers at the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“Understandably, people had different priorities at the start of the pandemic. Since then we have had a big increase in the number of volunteers coming forward. They were people who wanted to do more as they saw how much people have struggled throughout the last year.
“We hope to get more volunteer counsellors, as it means we can answer more calls at a time when the service is very busy.”
Georgina said that anxieties about the global pandemic are evident in the contacts Childline are receiving from children and young people.
“Children have found it hard to understand. At the very start they were contacting us about being taken away from school, losing their social connections and losing their hobbies an interests.
“The children and young people didn’t have their own space and their parents and guardians were all very anxious with financial concerns and just generally about the pandemic. The young people also had worries about exams and about their future.
“Our counsellors were there throughout using their skills to support these children and young people.”
No experience is necessary to become a volunteer, as full training is provided, and it is open to anyone aged 16 and over.
“To become a volunteer all you need is a passion to do something for children and young people,” Georgina said. “You need to want to help and support them.
“People volunteer here for many different reasons. Some are young people starting out on the path to their professional career and want the training and experience, others want to form connections and some just want to do more for the youth of today.”
All volunteers complete a seven-week online counselling training course before they begin to take calls.
“On a call you never know what you are picking up so the volunteers are all fully trained counsellors in the Childline model. While it is quite intense work, the volunteers are really enjoy it.
“One of the worries that some people have about volunteering is taking it home with them. We have a process in place which helps to prevent that,” Georgina said.
“At the start of a shift the volunteers will come in and meet up. A supervisor will then give the volunteers an update and then they will all take off their ‘outside world hat’.
“The team will then meet again at the end of the shift to debrief, talk about their contacts and they are really encouraged to talk about any young person they are worried about or any contact they found difficult.”
“Each volunteer has an allocated supervisor as their mentor and ongoing support and training throughout their volunteer journey. The volunteers are there to fully explore the young callers world and supervisors make over arching decisions and advise the volunteers on the right thing to do.”
Volunteer information sessions are held online every two weeks and the next one will take place on Tuesday, April 27 at 2pm.
To find out more contact the volunteer coordinator on 02820441733 or email [email protected]