Over the last three years, Childline has seen a 40% increase in the number of children turning to the service with worries about world issues including:
- The coronavirus pandemic
- The war in Ukraine
- The climate crisis
- The death of the Queen
- And now the cost-of-living crisis
From April 2021 to March 2022, the service’s trained counsellors delivered 1,242 counselling sessions to children with worries about the world compared to 889 from the same period in 2018/19.
This is an issue affecting children of all ages, however the service has seen a particular uplift in counselling sessions with under 11s, up 38% compared to three years ago.
Over recent months, Childline has heard increasing concerns from children relating to money and jobs, which is likely to be driven by the financial pressures that many families are facing because of the cost-of-living crisis.
The service is also feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis: it is affecting the number of volunteers that are able give up their time to support the service and be here for children.
Over the past year, there have been a number of big events that have taken place across the UK and the world which have concerned young people but, this Christmas, worries will be closer to home for many.
Worries about parents losing their jobs, bills not being paid, concerns about keeping warm and not having food on the table are just some of the concerns children are sharing with Childline in relation to the cost of living.
Many are also telling the service that these worries are making them feel upset with some considering whether they need to get a job to help.
One girl from Northern Ireland who contacted Childline said: “I am struggling with coping with the state of the world right now. People are starving and can’t afford to heat their homes – some are even losing their homes. I just don’t understand how governments don’t do more to help. I sometimes feel guilty for feeling bad because my problems are nothing compared to people who have nothing in this world.”
As we edge closer to Christmas and many families continue to feel financial pressure, Childline anticipates that these kinds of worries will only continue in conversations that young people have with counsellors.
And that’s why it is so vital that the service is getting ready to keep its 13 bases across the UK open over the festive season, including Christmas day so it can be here to listen to those children in need and support them.
However, volunteer numbers are dropping and this Christmas the service will have a reduced number of people working across all its bases.
The charity’s volunteer numbers in their Belfast base have fallen from 66 in April this year to 54 last month. The base in Foyle has also seen volunteer numbers drop in this period, from 29 to 15.
This is a fresh blow after the service spent months rebuilding its volunteer numbers after they halved during the coronavirus pandemic due to the national lockdown.
Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline President and Founder said: “Every Christmas we are incredibly grateful to our staff and volunteers who support children for whom this can be a very tough time.
“This Christmas will unfortunately be a particularly hard year for many families given the financial struggles the country is currently facing.
“At Childline, our counsellors know that this is already having an impact on children, many are aware of the pressures their families are experiencing, and they are anxious about the impact this will have.
“Many of these children are worried about sharing their concerns with their own families as they fear that this would put them under even more stress.
“Therefore, it is so important that Childline counsellors are here for children throughout Christmas and New Year so those young people can talk about their worries and get the support they need.”
Shaun Friel, Childline Director said: “Lots of different world issues have taken place this year which have impacted many children and young people and caused them to feel worried and concerned about their future.
“Now, given the cost of living crisis, money worries will sadly continue to be a key worry for children over the winter months and for some this will be having a negative impact on their mental health and well-being.
“No matter what a child’s worry is, thanks to our amazing volunteers, Childline is able to be here for those children this Christmas as a safe and confidential space where they can talk through whatever they want.
“However, our volunteer numbers are on the decline and without their support, many children would be left feeling anxious and alone.
“So, as we enter the new year, if you can offer some spare time to help Childline be here for children and young people, we would be so grateful.”
To find out more about volunteering or to help us be here for children this Christmas via a donation to our Be Here for Children Appeal you can visit the NSPCC website .