Childline's Midlands helpline in 570,000 counselling sessions over 20 years

Counsellors at a children's charity have provided more than 570,000 sessions across the country since its base opened in the West Midlands.

Volunteer counsellor Colin Butler
Volunteer counsellor Colin Butler

Volunteers have delivered a total of 572,055 sessions from the NSPCC's Birmingham Childline base since it opened in April 2002, figures up to this March show.

It comes as the helpline is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and is appealing for more people from all walks of life to volunteer.

Colin Butler, who has been a volunteer counsellor since the service started in 1986, moved to Birmingham in 2004, two years after the Midlands centre launched, and has volunteered at the base for the last 18 years.

He said: "The Birmingham Childline base was very small back then at the start. It has since grown considerably, with the biggest change being that Childline is now online. As well as being able to call us over the phone, children can now email and message us online.

"Another difference in recent years has been the growth in high risk cases such as suicide, self-harm and mental health; to such an extent that it has now reached crisis point.

“But it is also very rewarding to be there for children. That is what we do and quite often we’re the only place they can go to. Children share their issues and concerns with us, knowing that we’re not going to break confidentiality, unless they disclose anything life threatening. They trust us.

“I would like to wish the service and everyone at Birmingham Childline a very happy 20th birthday. I hope I will be around for the 40th, although that will be a challenge as I’m 75.”

Shirin Khan, Childline service head for the Midlands, added: "I am really proud that we have reached this 20-year milestone. I would like to say a great thanks to all the staff and volunteers at Birmingham Childline, past and present, whose dedication, professionalism and care have enabled us to make a difference to the lives of thousands of children and young people.

"To ensure this vital service can continue to be there for every child, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Birmingham Childline needs more people to become volunteer counsellors. If you can commit to a regular four-and-a-half-hour shift, once a week, and have an empathetic and non-judgemental outlook, then we’d love to hear from you."

Visit nspcc.org.uk, or if people are interested in becoming a Childline volunteer counsellor, email birminghamvolunteers@nspcc.org.uk

Children can speak to a Childline counsellor anytime on 0800 1111. Alternatively, they can visit the Childline website, childline.org.uk, and have a 121 online chat or send an email to a counsellor.

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