Landmarks across Scotland will glow green next week to remind youngsters that Childline stands ready to support them over the festive season.
Science centres in Glasgow and Dundee, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, the Falkirk Wheel and Camera Obscura Edinburgh will join dozens more venues lighting up green across the UK on December 22, the longest night of the year.
Childline provided 240 counselling sessions to children in Scotland during the 12 days of Christmas last year and its volunteers expect to handle many more calls over the coming holidays.
Concerns that youngsters shared with the NSPCC-run service last Christmas included family conflict, facing their first festive season without a loved one, struggles with mental health and worries about parents or carers drinking more than usual.
Others reported feeling worried or guilty about Christmas placing extra financial pressures on their family and struggling with eating or body issues.
Jess Copner, a Childline volunteer from Aberdeenshire, will be one of many on duty on Christmas Eve this year ready to lend an ear to children needing someone to talk to.
The 53-year-old, who volunteered on Christmas Day last year, said: “I did a shift last year which started at 7.15am so I had to be very organised and did lots of food preparation and gift wrapping beforehand.
“As my children are older they were just getting up when I got back, so I didn’t miss out on much at home.
“Volunteering for Childline is not completely altruistic, I also get a lot out of it. It’s great to give something back, especially at Christmas, it makes me feel good to know I’m helping others.”
Adeniyi Alade, service head of Childline, based in Aberdeen, said: “Sadly we know Christmas is not always a happy time for children.
“Hundreds of young people in Scotland contact Childline every year during the festive break.
“For some young people the issues they face all year round can become worse at this time of year, with societal pressures and expectations being added to existing problems.
“With schools closed for the holiday, children also have limited access to wider support networks which can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“Christmas can also place a number of extra pressures on families, from financial to emotional, and for those children who are struggling with a range of issues our trained counsellors can provide a real lifeline.”
Childline is currently inviting members of the public to donate to its Christmas appeal. To make a donation, visit the NSPCC website.
The charity is also encouraging people to sign up to its Walk for Children event on December 22 to raise funds. For more details visit www.nspcc.org.uk
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