Many of the children who reached out to Childline volunteers on Christmas Day were lonely, it has emerged.
The ISPCC’s listening service responded to a record 1,450 calls, texts and online messages on Christmas Day.
The figure was up 20% on the 1,212 calls, texts and messages received on Christmas Day 2012.
The service was able to open up more telephone lines yesterday with 75 volunteers available to answer calls, five more than last year.
Over the last year Childline has been struggling to answer all calls, with one in three going unanswered.
National Childline manager Margie Roe said that, for many children, Christmas was just another day.
While children contacted Childline on Christmas Day for a variety of reasons, loneliness was a big issue for many of them.
Ms Roe said mental health issues and alcohol abuse in the home also featured highly in the reasons given by children for calling Childline.
“We also got calls from children who looked for support from Childline during the year and wanted to let us know how they got on and to say thanks for being there for them,” she said.
Ms Roe said children with more serious issues sometimes preferred to go online to discuss them.
The volunteers also found it hard-going listening to distressed children on Christmas Day.
“It is a very special day and to think that a child is miserable on Christmas Day is upsetting,” she said.
Ms Roe said that for some of the child callers there could have been a family break-up during the year and it was their first Christmas when their parents were not together.
This year childline celebrated its 25th year of listening to children and last May answered its five millionth call.
“The service is definitely needed — the statistics show that, but we are worried about the calls we are unable to get to.
“When a child reaches out for support, it’s so important that they receive an answer.”
Ms Roe said December was a difficult month to raise funds for the charity and had no doubt that the Central Remedial Clinic top-up scandal had discouraged some people from donating.
“The ISPCC’s Holly Days did not go as well as expected. The CRC top-up scandal definitely had an impact on the fundraising campaign,” she said.
* www.childline.ie . Call 1800 666666 or text ‘Talk’ to 50101.
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