A Portstewart woman is appealling to local people to support ChildLine’s New Year’s Resolution campaign for new volunteers to help children and young people through the charity’s Schools Service.
Annette Wright has been volunteering with the ChildLine Schools Service for over two years.
She said: ““I heard about the ChildLine Schools Service through the ChildLine Helpline in Foyle, I am passionate about protecting our children and it fit perfectly alongside talking to children and young people on the phone.
“I started volunteering over two years ago as my circumstances allowed it. Now, I refuse to give it up so make my circumstances fit my volunteering!
“Every school experience is different and valuable but sometimes, you look at a child’s face, and feel they really do need us.
“It is also great getting feedback when a child contacts the helplines and says how we were in their school and how much they appreciate and enjoyed our visit.
“Although I started volunteering because I believe in the necessity of what they are achieving and wanted to help protect children I get so much back from the service and the people but mainly from the children and this gives a real sense of purpose and achievement.”
Encouraging others in the borough to volunteer, as part of their new year’s resolution, Annette says “just go for it”;
“The support and training is excellent, you get to visit amazing schools in fantastic places and meet all sorts of people from all different places. But, most importantly, you really are, and know that you are, making a difference and helping protect our children by letting them know that they all have a right to be happy and safe and that abuse is not their fault, ever.”
With stories of child abuse, exploitation and systematic child protection failures continuing to lead the news agenda, the service continues to be a vital lifeline for children and young people.
Using a series of age-appropriate assemblies and interactive workshops, trained volunteers encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and show them ways of accessing support. The Service has already visited 1102 children in 20 schools across the Coleraine area, and has proved incredibly popular with parents and teachers.
Shaun Friel, ChildLine Schools Service Manager for Northern Ireland said: ““By volunteering for ChildLine you could help children understand what abuse is, giving them the confidence to talk about it, the knowledge to prevent it and the courage to find help if they ever need it.”
New volunteers can also sign up to the ChildLine helpline, where they will spend four plus hours per week helping to offer children and young people aged 18 and under, confidential advice and support via the 24 hour telephone helpline or online, using the 1-2-1 chat and email service. See: www.nspcc.org.uk/childlinevolunteer.