One in four 'heartbreaking' calls to Childline goes unanswered

Lack of volunteer counsellors means Aberdeen base unable to answer every call.

A quarter of calls to Childline are going unanswered due to a lack of counsellors, the charity has said.

Calls are made to the support service every 25 seconds, but since the start of the Covid pandemic, the Aberdeen base has lost a third of its volunteers.

Childline supervisor Alex McGillivray described calls ringing out as “heartbreaking” and fears more children will be left at risk.

He said the lack of volunteers was partly down to the cost-of-living crisis making it difficult for people to give up their time.

The Aberdeen base normally takes around 250 calls per week, but one in every four goes unanswered.

“For a call to ring out is heartbreaking,”McGillivray said.

“It could be a young person who has been bullied for months and they’ve never been able to tell anyone, but they’ve built up the courage to call Childline.

“And if no one answers, it just means they might be reluctant to reach out again.”

Childline provides almost 25,000 counselling sessions for children each year where their main concern was suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Volunteer Christina Cameron, who answers calls once a week at the Aberdeen base, said: “We often get a lot of young people who have mental health issues like anxiety and depression or simply loneliness.

“And with the cost-of-living crisis, they can often pick up the tension that their family are under.

“Sometimes they’ll talk to us about feeling suicidal or self-harming and again we can talk to them about that and help them deal with those feelings.

“It is a bit daunting thinking about all these issues you hear about from the young people, but there’s a lot of support and the training is good.

“Supervisors are there to support you. We all know that these young people are out there having these feelings and it’s a huge privilege to be able to listen to them and support them through a difficult time.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with Childline can search for roles online.