My name’s Codie, and I am a staff counsellor at Childline.
It’s a Saturday night and I’m speaking to a 14-year-old with plans to end their life. Unfortunately, this is pretty common, but an added complication comes in the form of a global pandemic. This means that for many young people, their support system has been taken away. They can’t see friends, or speak to their teachers about their worries. Leaving the house has become harder, and visiting a GP for support is not as simple as it once was.
Add to that the fact that so many of our valued volunteers are having to shield at home, or that we have had to reduce our hours, and things have been pretty difficult during the Corona Virus lockdown – for us as volunteers and staff, but also for the children and young people we support.
That said, we’ve also been astounded by the resilience of the young people accessing our support. The understanding for the way we have had to adapt the service. The willingness to try coping mechanisms, engage in grounding techniques, the sense of humour they have shown during dark periods.
Without being able to signpost to teachers, or doctors, we have had to be a little more creative. It’s certainly not been easy, but in a particularly strange and difficult time, I really do feel that the service has pulled together in an incredible way.
Usually, when you hear ‘Childline’ you think of those devastating adverts from years gone by, that suggest that all we do is help children who are being abused. We still do speak to a heartbreaking number of young people who are experiencing various forms of abuse, but we also cover everything else from friendship issues to sexual health.
In fact, an incredible 45% of our sessions in 2018/19 were related to emotional health and wellbeing – sadly this includes self-harm and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Across our 12 bases, we answer voice calls, 121 chats and emails. We usually operate 24 hours a day – including Christmas day, but due to our reduced capacity we’ve had to stop at midnight for a while. Thankfully, unlike a lot of services, we’ve still been able to remain open and support young people.
At the start of lockdown, for most of us, our fellow counsellors were the only other people we were able to see, outside of our household. We couldn’t make each other brews, or give someone a hug, or pat on the shoulder after a particularly upsetting contact, and yet at the same time, we were closer than ever. While the world was trying to fight off a devastating virus, we were supporting the nation’s young people with their own fights.
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