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07th Feb 2017

Childline volunteer: “People ring us back to say we saved their life”

Amanda Cassidy

Developing early could have a long-term impact on a girl's mental health.

Monica Rowe says it is hard to listen to a child crying down the phone.

But it is harder knowing they would be crying alone if the Childline service wasn’t available. She has worked as a volunteer with the ISPCC for over seven years. She says she initially thought it would be extremely harrowing, but she says helping a child who simply needs to be heard is extremely uplifting;

“Before I started I was afraid, as a mother, that I might find some of the calls too distressing – because knowing any child is in trouble is really difficult, and that part is hard. But the training you get makes you realise no matter how bad the call is, when you put down that phone they are better off than before they rang. Even if they are not going to get help, they know they have finally been heard, maybe for the first time in their life.  It is extremely rewarding even if some of the calls are not easy.”

Monica says the issues they face range from cyber bullying and sexuality to body issues and abuse at home. It is a service for every child with every issue.

“Many times we volunteers have had people ring us to say thank you. We have had people ring to say ‘you saved my life’, and I mean that quite literally. They say time and time again that talking to us gave them the confidence to tell their parents what was going on.”

She is also keen to stress that parents should not be afraid to encourage their children to contact them if they seem to be experiencing problems’

“No child tells their parents everything, so there are certain things like body issues or sexuality or bullying, that they are afraid or embarrassed to talk about. So to be able to talk confidentially and anonymously pour those feelings out is magic. I can’t describe it any other way. It’s simply magic. If you imagine the tyre of a bicycle building up  and up until it is rock hard, it’s that pressure that is building up in a child, and if you just manage to let out just a little and soften it a little, it makes a massive difference. We listen and we get them to step out of the problem and look at it from another angle.”

There are just over 400 volunteers working on the Childline service, and Monica is now hoping to encourage others to get involved by hosting a breakfast event to raise funds.

“We get upwards of eight thousand calls every week to the Childline phone service. Last year, we answered over four hundred and twenty thousand calls. Unfortunately, we can’t get to every child, every time they call, and just under a third of our calls go unanswered. We depend on the generosity of the people of Ireland to hep us answer every call; almost eighty per cent of our funding comes from fundraising and kind donations. We hope people will continue to support us and host a Cheerios Childline Breakfast to help us raise these much-needed funds.”

It takes a lot of courage for a child to finally pick up the phone. Monica now hopes others, like you, can help us to answer calls from children every day and night.

Childline Helpline 1800 666 666

Interview with thanks to Cheerios Childline Breakfast appeal