BIRMINGHAM’S Childline service is calling for more people to volunteer as counsellors to support children in need.
The vital NSPCC-run helpline is celebrating its 20th birthday this month (April), and is appealing for more people from all walks of life to give up their time and help out.
Colin Butler has been a Childline volunteer counsellor ever since Esther Rantzen first started the service in 1986. He moved to Birmingham in 2004, two years after the Midlands’ centre launched, and has volunteered at the base for the last 18 years.
Volunteer counsellors like Colin are a key part of the free and confidential Childline service and provide comfort, support and practical advice to the many young people and children who call asking for help.
The 75-year-old 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.”
Anyone interested in volunteering should email birmingham [email protected].
Children can speak to a Childline counsellor anytime on 0800 1111. Alternatively, they can visit the Childline website, www.childline.org.uk, and have a one-to-one online chat or send an email to a counsellor.