‘Substantial increase’ in Childline calls

THE number of calls for help to the ISPCC’s Childline service increased 28% in 2008 and this year the organisation says it’s struggling to keep up with growing demand for assistance.

In the first seven months of this year, the number of calls to Childline jumped more than 40,000 when compared to the same period for last year. The ISPCC has reported a “substantial increase” in the demand for all its services this year.

“The ISPCC is working hard to respond to every child who needs a service. In 2009, we embarked on a new strategy which through our staff and volunteers and the use of web-based technologies, has enabled us to provide a service to more children than ever before.

“However, given the increasing demands for support in 2009, we quite simply can’t keep up with the demand,” said Caroline O’Sullivan, director of services.

The Childline 24-hour telephone service is receiving about 17,000 calls a week.

The average number of calls received in 2008 was 13,248 calls per week, representing a 28% increase on the previous year.

“The ISPCC Childline service has managed to answer an additional 42,245 calls in the first seven months of 2009 when compared to the same period in 2008,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

Referrals to comprehensive support services, Childfocus and Teenfocus, totalled 625 families in 2008. From January to July this year, the number of referrals has increased to 675 for support.

Leanbh, which works with begging children, dealt with 41 families in 2008, while from January to July this year Leanbh has already worked with 35 families, representing an increase of 47% on last year.

Childline Online has seen a significant increase in the demand for all its services, with more than 10,000 contacts received through Teentext.

“Families nationwide are under increasing pressure and, as a result, more are seeking support. This, coupled with fundraising in the current economic climate, has placed a strain on the ISPCC’s ongoing ability to provide a service for all children who need it,” Ms O’Sullivan said.


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