Childline, founded by Esther Rantzen, is twenty years old this week and is launching a campaign to raise £20M.  Childline was once a very high profile charity but has dropped right out of the media spotlight….

“When we launched 20 years ago we were charitable flavour of the month, I had to do 19 live interviews in one day,” says Rantzen.

But when I launched our emergency funding appeal last year it was not carried on a single prime time news programme. That’s because the first pictures of the famine in Niger were coming through, there were images of starving babies.

“I understand why people want to donate money when they see such images, but we can’t show pictures of the children we help. I can’t show you the young boy who rang up last week and told a counsellor that he is locked in a shed by his parents every night. This makes it harder for niche charities like ChildLine to get people’s attention.”

Some Childline facts:

  • More than 4,500 children call daily
  • It takes on average £38 to counsel a child
  • Has over 1,380 volunteers
  • The annual cost of one volunteer counsellor is £3,762
  • Three times as many calls from girls than boys

Childline relies on donations for 92% of its budget and cannot cope with the volume of calls it recieves. Often, many children try four or five times before they get through.

Source: BBC

When anguished children have finally found the courage to call Childline only to find that they can’t get through and have to keep trying, they will be left feeling even more scared, desperate and abandoned. They are already desolate. To be given the hope of help then not being able to get through is sheer torment, not to mention dangerous and particularly so if the child is suicidal.

I think that State funds should be provided to cover any shortfalls in finance with the aim that every call will be answered straightaway.

Esther Rantzen deserves commending for her efforts in *outing* the sensitive issue of child abuse because this issue tends to make adults feel uncomfortable and a little bit guilty that children are suffering at the hands of their own peers – ie – parents/carers.  Sometimes we’d just rather not know.

We all have an obligation, a duty to protect children, to make sure they’re as safe as can be.  We have no right to turn a blind eye.


One response to this post.

  1. One of the sad things about the calls made to Childline is that most of them concern bullying. If there’s one thing I detest, one thing which makes me so angry and sad, it’s a bully.

    Bullying Online is an award winning independent charity that is taking a major part in the Anti-bullying week – November 20th – 24th 2006.

    It’s an excellent charity that has done many good things to help combat the issue of school bullying. Website here:


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