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Childline delivers more than 50,000 counselling sessions about mental health and loneliness

THE NSPCC is warning about the devastating mental health impact of the Pandemic on children as new figures reveal Childline has seen an increase in the number of counselling sessions about mental and emotional health with children aged 11 and under since Lockdown measures were first introduced with the monthly average rising by 16%.

The latest data from the NSPCC also shows that the service has now delivered a total of 54,926 counselling sessions to children of all ages on this issue from April to the end of December against the backdrop of the Pandemic.

The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10% compared to the pre-Lockdown period from January to March.

Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and in response to these latest worrying figures and with COVID restrictions continuing, the service is urgently appealing to those who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer, so Childline can be here for children when they need us the most.

With Schools closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February and the whole of the UK in Lockdown, Childline has never been more important as a source of support for young people who are struggling. Now more than ever, it is essential that children are not left isolated, alone and unsupported.

Over the past ten months, the NSPCC-run service's trained Counsellors have heard first-hand the devastating impact that the challenges posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic have had on young people's mental health.

Children who contacted Childline's trained Counsellors about their mental health spoke about concerns including loneliness, low mood, low self esteem, depression and anxiety.

Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or School closures and cancelled exams; while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.

One girl aged 16 who contacted Childline said:- "I feel really sad and lonely. I need to talk to someone because I don't really have anyone right now. I am really struggling with the whole isolation thing. Most days I find myself just lost in my own thoughts and feeling numb. I am classed as a vulnerable person, so my isolation lasts for 12 weeks, which seems like a lifetime."

Since the 1st UK Lockdown in March 2020, mental health has remained the top concern that children and young people talked to Childline about. The service has delivered between 5000 to 7000 counselling sessions every month on this issue with the numbers fluctuating throughout the year as the situation changes and Covid restrictions were lifted and re-imposed. Since the latest national Lockdown many children have been reaching out and talking about this and Childline is continuing to support them with their worries.

During the Pandemic, Childline has continued to adapt to ensure it can still be here for children including developing online training so volunteers can answer emails from young people remotely. However, despite this, since last March volunteer numbers have dropped by 40%.

Volunteering for Childline is just 1 of the ways to help make 2021 a better year for children.

Despite, the latest national Lockdown, Childline will remain open and staff and volunteers have been given key worker status to continue their vital work. Sparing a few hours, one evening a week or at the weekend volunteering at a local Childline base can help ensure Childline continues to support children who often have nowhere to turn.

But there is also a range of other ways to support the charity, including:- taking on a sponsored challenge, Kick the Caffeine, or fundraising in the community.

Childline Founder and President, Dame Esther Rantzen said:-"With Schools now shut again and children spending more time behind closed doors, it is absolutely imperative that Childline is there for them. Many young people, especially those in unsafe homes, are feeling desperately anxious and depressed. School can be the only safe haven they know, and without that support they feel entirely alone. For them, Childline is literally a life line. But the service urgently needs more volunteers to listen to and support children, and more funds to pay for their calls and on-line contacts, and for that we depend upon the generosity and compassion of the public. It is the NSPCC's mission to make 2021 a better year for children, and with your help we can make this dream a reality."

Neil Homer, who is 53 years old and works in telecoms has volunteered for Childline since 2009. He said:- "I've heard 1st hand the devastating impact the Pandemic has had on children's mental health and well being. As children's lives continue to be impacted by the Pandemic, it is vital that myself and my fellow volunteer Counsellors continue to be here to listen to children's worries and support them. However, we currently can't answer every child so, if you can, please sign up and volunteer for Childline and help us reach every child who needs our support."

The NSPCC has been supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery who provided crucial funding of ₤1,000,000 to Childline last year, the equivalent of running the service for an entire month.

Children can call Childline on:- 08001111, from 7.30am to 3.30am, from Monday to Friday, or 9am to 3.30am, on weekends. You can also get in touch via:- Childline.Org.UK.

News Report Audio Copy

Society's online financial education lessons for Primary and Secondary School children at home in Lockdown

Yorkshire Building Society's Sharon Stirling filming a financial education lesson for primary school children.

YORKSHIRE Building Society has launched 6 online lessons of its financial education programme Money Minds, to support parents, carers, Teachers and all Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Primary School pupils as well as Key Stage 3 Secondary pupils through the Coronavirus Pandemic. Due to new national Lockdown measures leading to the closure of Schools, the Society has released 2 Key Stage 1 (aged 5 to 7) digital Money Minds lessons on the topics of:- 'Keeping Money Safe' and 'Wants and Needs' and 2 Key Stage 2 (aged 8 to 11) lessons on the topics of:- 'Vacation Venture' and 'Project Party' to teach them about the importance of budgeting.

The Society has also launched 2 new Key Stage 3 (aged 11 to 14) digital lessons for students on the topics of:- 'Bills and Budgets' and 'Project Profit' to teach them about the importance of budgeting and being financially resilient. The video lessons should take between 25 to 40 minutes to complete and are presented by colleagues from the Society.

Money Minds is a free programme consisting of a series of activities and projects designed to promote discussion and learning amongst children and young people and is usually delivered in Schools by colleagues from the Society as part of its volunteering programme. Society colleagues working in branches are key workers and are supporting customers with essential financial services through the Covid19 outbreak and new Lockdowns.

Sharon Stirling, manager at Yorkshire Building Society's Edinburgh branch filmed the:- 'Keeping Money Safe' and 'Project Party' lesson which teaches children how to budget whilst planning a party. She said:- "We know that there have been really hard times over the last 9 months for children, Teachers, parents and guardians. Now with Schools closing again I hope that our digital Money Minds lessons will help in any small way in making their lives a little easier by providing some quality:- 'go to' content available to use for home Schooling or in classrooms for vulnerable children and those of key workers. I've delivered numerous face to face Money Minds lessons for the Society to pupils in the past and know from experience how impactful they are. The feedback we have received so far on our online sessions has been really positive so we are really pleased they are being well received."

Louise Neill, Community Manager at Yorkshire Building Society has developed the financial education lessons. She said:- "We're committed to supporting children and young people in teaching financial education through our Money Minds programme. As we usually have our colleagues volunteering in Schools we have had to adapt the way we deliver these. It's incredible that our branch colleagues, classed as key workers supporting customers with essential financial services through the Lockdowns, have been able to extend the help they can offer by providing these lessons which will continue to improve financial capability in the next generation in the UK."

More than 25,000 pupils across the UK have now received a Money Minds lesson since the programme launched in 2015. When children have completed the lesson their parents or guardians can email the Society and they will be emailed a certificate. Parents, Teachers, guardians and children can view all available online Money Minds lessons at:- . More information about Money Minds can be found at:- YBS.Co.UK/Your-Society/Money-Minds.

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