Nottingham, England, Nov 8, 2017 -- Behind the doors of an industrial building on a quiet Nottingham street a team of volunteers dedicate themselves to supporting isolated and vulnerable children.
Childline’s Nottingham base on Church Street in Basford takes hundreds of calls every day from children and young people across the country with problems including eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and abuse.
These calls are picked up by one of 114 counsellors, ranging from students to retirees, who provide them with advice, support and a sympathetic ear.
To meet the high demand the centre is looking for more volunteers, particularly with the difficult Christmas period coming up, when volunteers are busier and vulnerable children have to spend more time with their family.
Claire Perry, 28, volunteer co-ordinator at the centre, said: "We need to be there whenever they need us most and without the volunteers this organisation would grind to a halt.
"We hugely appreciate their invaluable commitment and how they go above and beyond for us. We understand that what we ask of them is huge but they consistently deliver.
"There are shifts where we know there are children trying to contact us and we do not have enough volunteers, there is no limit to the number we need."
The volunteers work one four-hour shift a week in teams of around 12, spending three and a half hours speaking with young people up to the age of 19 either on the phone, via e-mail or increasingly through an online chat forum.
The problems discussed can range from bullying, abuse, mental health problems, eating disorders and arguments with family.
The volunteers aim to provide practical advice, such as who the children should speak to to get help, or simply to be a sympathetic listener, and to prepare them for this they receive 44 hours of training before they can start.
However there is a supervisor on hand to help with particularly difficult calls and in extreme cases, where there is an immediate risk to the child, to refer the case to the police.
Paul James, one of these supervisors, explained how they are busiest on evenings after 6pm and over the weekend, when children are home from school.
The 33-year-old said: "It is so rewarding to support young people and children who have no one to talk to.
"The most difficult are not always the high risk cases such as suicide but sometimes the ones that you least expect, the ones involving young people who are simply really isolated."
The centre is one of 12 nationally which work together to provide Childline’s 24-hour helpline, with volunteers in the Nottingham centre sometimes working tirelessly till 1.30am.
Volunteer administrator Bernice Williams, 50, said: "I am passionate about children, being a mum myself their welfare is something which is close to my heart.
"I believe our help is needed now more than in the past because of the pressures on kids such as social media, which I have seen with my own, and I wanted to help those who are alone and vulnerable."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
A 24-hour helpline for children
Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017
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