Second Childline Unit To Open in Galway
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children will open its new Childline unit, the second largest in the country, in the city next month. It aims to answer more than 1,000 calls weekly.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Ollie Crowe will open the facility, which provides a counselling service for children and young people, and which is located at Galway Retail Park, (next to Smyth’s Toys) on the Headford Road on Wednesday. A fundraising coffee morning will take place on the day from 10am to noon to mark the occasion.
Carmen Taheny, a corporate fundraising executive with the charity in Galway, says the unit’s size is a credit to local people who have been hugely supportive of its fundraising efforts.
The charity does not receive any Government funding, relying solely on the generosity of the public and companies.
“We are only able to move to our current new Childline unit due to the fact that the organisation Boys Hope Girls Hope closed up as a charity and gave Childline Galway €50,000 from what was left in their account.
“Galway phones at the moment are trying to answer approximately 1,000 calls per week. We currently have 47 phone volunteers while our online text service has 40 volunteers; both are open 365 days a year in the Galway unit.
“Thanks to all our volunteers giving four hours a week to listening to young people we are open every day of the year including Christmas Day. Most of our shifts in Galway are out of hours, providing the only support for young people out of office hours. This is a vital service to support, protect and empower young people in their daily lives.
“The Galway office will play a big role in the service side of the ISPCC now due to the expansion of the unit and will make a difference to children’s lives here in the west,” says Ms Taheny. “We also have volunteers in this area for children and families in need of support.”
Nationally, the charity answers about 10,000 calls a week. However it receives 14,000. “Nationally the Teentxt, One 2 One and private and public email service received 27,710 contacts to Childline online. As Galway is now the second largest unit we are receiving a significant number of these.
“We have grown over the past number of years and increased our call answering and volunteers in Galway. This year is our first year of opening our office seven days a week in Galway, including Christmas Day.”
Childline’s annual report for 2010 indicates that, with more than 2,300 calls and messages to its service nationally per day, children in Ireland are in crisis.
“Ireland’s children are struggling every day with mental health issues and with a lack of services and long waiting lists; for many of them Childline is their only option,” outlines the report. “Instances of abuse and violence are prevalent in the lives of young people and very often there is nowhere else they can turn to. Pressures in the home are impacting greatly on relationships and family life. Children are very aware of the current economic climate and how this is affecting their own lives and that of their families.”
The report reveals 49 per cent of calls to Childline last year related to children or young people’s personal lives, 13 per cent to abuse and welfare, 11 per cent each to sexuality and seeking information and eight per cent each to peer and family relationships and mental health.
“As with 2009, the number of calls relating to personal life highlights the lack of options young people have for accessing support to cope with everyday issues.”
“Concerns over abuse and welfare also tend to be high. In addition, for many young people Childline is somewhere they can come to get information about issues they are facing.
“What is clear from our online figures is that young people feel more able to open up about mental health and relationship issues through the web and text services. Very often without the burden of speaking aloud they feel safer and better able to express their feelings.”
The charity says children and young people can contact it about anything. “No problem is too big or small. If someone is feeling scared or out of control or just wants to talk, contact us. Some of the things that children or young people may want to contact us about are feeling lonely or unloved, worries about the future, problems about school, bullying, drugs, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, physical and sexual abuse, running away and concerns about parents, brothers, sisters and friends, and crimes against them.”
It costs €4 million per year to run Childline. The charity does not receive any Government funding, relying solely on the generosity of the public and companies.
To make a donation to the organisation telephone 1850 50 40 50 or log onto www.ispcc.ie/donate To contact Childline log onto www.childline.ie or call freephone 1800 66 66 66 or text “List” to 50101 or for its teentext service text “Talk” to 50101.