There has been a rise in the number of children contacting Childline with concerns about the cost of living crisis.
The service, run by the NSPCC, offers free support to young people by phone or online anytime of the day.
This year, the service has seen a 38% increase in the number of under 11’s being counselled for worries about world issues compared to 2018/2019.
In recent months, counsellors have been hearing increasing concerns relating to money and jobs, driven by the financial pressures that many families are facing.
Professor Helen Minnis, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry, says while it is concerning, it is not surprising there has been a rise in calls and online discussions about the issue.
She told STV News: “There are more and more children whose parents are very stressed and who really just don’t have enough money to feel that they can give their children the kind of Christmas that they would want.
“I think that’s very stressful for children to feel that they’re singled out and that they’re maybe different from their peers.
“I think this is a situation where we’re losing our safety net for children.”
Eoin Carey has been volunteering for Childline for a year and a half and has taken a number of calls relating to the cost of living crisis – in particular over the festive period.
The 36-year-old will be taking a shift on Christmas Day again this year to try and help children who may be struggling.
He said: “Young people who have gone through a bereavement, who have lost someone in their life, whose families are going through difficulty, that are from separated families or are in care – that sense of not being around the table that we see in adverts and films might not be available to them and it can really be a very difficult feeling.”
The cost of living crisis has also had an impact on the service with volunteer numbers dropping considerably.
Childline lost more than 400 volunteer counsellors nationwide during the pandemic. It managed to build its numbers up again, only for the service to see a steady decline since April of this year.
It means there will be a reduced number of people working across all its bases but there will always be someone available to take a call.
Susie Williamson, team manager at Childline said: “Everybody’s aware of Childline and quite often we hear about people having it on their bucket lists as something that they might like to do at some point.
“What I would say is if that is you and you have been thinking about it, please, we need you now.”
Childline can be contacted by phone 0800 1111 and online at www.childline.org.uk/.