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Issue Date:- 10 February 2009

Need for ChildLine service clear as number of young people counselled for sexual abuse by ChildLine reaches a new high

NEW figures from the NSPCC demonstrate ChildLine’s vital role as someone to turn to for young people, as well as the need to grow the service through the Child’s Voice Appeal. 

ChildLine is there for young people, whatever their worry.  Latest figures, from ChildLine in Yorkshire, the North East and North West specifically around sexual abuse, demonstrate the rising demand for the service amongst young people who feel ready to speak out:-

· ChildLine in Yorkshire, the North East and North West counselled 2,297 children about sexual abuse last year, more than at any other time in the service’s history

· 95 of these children were aged seven or under

· This is up from 1,489 children counselled about sexual abuse in 2004/5 – a 54% increase over 3 years

· This compares to an overall increase in the total number of children counselled in the North from 25,219 in 2004/5, to 27,281 in 2007/08 an 8% increase

Last year the NSPCC launched the Child’s Voice Appeal (  The appeal is an ambitious three-year UK-wide campaign to raise £50m to develop and grow both the ChildLine service and the NSPCC Helpline - for adults concerned about the safety or welfare of a child.  This programme includes the introduction of both online counselling and text services for children, which will be introduced shortly.

ChildLine is currently able to answer two thirds of the 2.3m calls from across the UK it receives every year.  The NSPCC’s aim, with public support, is that ChildLine will be able to answer the call of every child who needs the service, when they need it.  Donations to the Child’s Voice Appeal will allow ChildLine to introduce new technology and ways of communicating with the service as well as to train more volunteer counsellors and answer more calls than ever before.  The appeal will also enable us to develop the NSPCC Helpline service for adults, which is equally vital, particularly for concerns about children who are too young to contact ChildLine themselves. 

John Dunmore, Assistant Director ChildLine, said:- “Every day, ChildLine receives dozens of harrowing calls about sexual abuse from children, some of whom are very young indeed.  Children phone to talk in confidence about suffering different kinds of sexual abuse, the vast majority of the abusers being people they know, either within their families, or the wider family circle.  They dare not speak about it, or ask for help, for fear of the consequences.  Many of them have been threatened or intimidated into silence.  We believe calls have gone up partly because of awareness campaigns targeted at children like the NSPCC “Don’t Hide It” campaign.  Child sex abuse storylines on programmes such as Eastenders also encourage children to speak out.  As a result, more children now understand what sexual abuse is and are increasingly willing to turn to ChildLine for help.  More ChildLine counsellors over the last few years has also meant more children helped and this is reflected in these latest figures.”

ChildLine founder and President Esther Rantzen said:- “These tragic calls come from children who have found the courage to ring a ChildLine counsellor.  Yet there are many children whose cries for help cannot be answered because ChildLine simply does not have enough resources to answer every call.  Our nightmare is the child who plucks up the courage to ring, fails to get through, and never dares try again.  As a ChildLine counsellor, I have experienced first hand these heart-wrenching calls from children who feel utterly alone until they make the call, I know the hope we provide these children literally saves precious young lives.  ChildLine counsellors provide in-depth counselling to children for a whole range of problems from physical or sexual abuse through to worries about exams, pregnancy and bullying.  ChildLine is on hand 24 hours seven days a week for any child whatever their problem.  We therefore urgently need to expand the service so that every child’s cry for help can be answered.”

People can help answer a child’s cry for help by donating to the NSPCC’s Child’s Voice Appeal by visiting  Anyone worried about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000.

Businesses take action for automatic rate relief

BUSINESSES in England are calling for the tax relief they are eligible for to be made automatic – saving them £400 million in total each year.

More than half of small businesses miss out on claiming back up to £1,200 off their business rates because they are unaware they are entitled to do so.  Now they are calling on their MPs to support a Private Members Bill which would see business rate relief granted automatically for small businesses.

Business rates are the 3rd largest cost to small firms, after salaries and rent.  Yet, many small businesses are unaware they are entitled to rate relief because many local authorities do not publicise it well enough.  Every year, around £400 million, calculated and ear-marked by the Treasury for eligible businesses, goes unclaimed - even though this money poses no extra cost to the Government or tax payer.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is working with a leading MP to pioneer a Private Members Bill to make rate relief for small firms automatic, as it is in Wales.  Tabled by Peter Luff, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire and Chairman of the Business and Enterprise committee, the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill, is due to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday, 6 March.

Mr Luff also tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament on Wednesday, 4 February 2009 to raise support for the Bill.

Members of the FSB will be taking action across the country to ask their MPs to champion their case for automatic rate relief.  They are supported in this nationwide action by the steering group of the Local Works coalition.

Norman Lay, Regional Chairman of the Merseyside, West Cheshire & Wigan Federation of Small Businesses said:- “After rent and wages, rates are the biggest cost to a business and automatically getting the relief they are entitled to would be extremely welcome.  During the recession, this cash injection could save many small businesses from laying-off staff or closing down completely.

Our members will be contacting their MPs to support their call for automatic rate relief – one of the key issues the FSB has been calling for in its Keep Trade Local campaign over the past year.”

Ron Bailey, Director Local Works – Campaign for the Sustainable Communities Act, said:- “Communities are falling apart because small businesses are in danger.  Making automatic the rate relief to which they are entitled would not only help small businesses stay afloat, it would also be a step towards keeping communities together.  And this would in turn help with climate change as it would reduce the need to travel to shop and work.”


MERSEYSIDE Police are his week appealing for witnesses following an incident in Bootle on Sunday, January 25, 2009.

At around 7.30pm, a member of the public called police after finding 55 year old Tommy Smith lying unconscious outside his home on Southey Street, Bootle.

Mr Smith suffered serious head injuries and was taken to hospital in Fazakerley where he remains in a critical, but stable condition.

It is not yet known how Mr Smith came to suffer the injuries and detectives are keen to speak to three young men who were seen running down an alley way from Southey Street towards Peel Road at around the time Mr Smith was found.

Anyone who was on Southey Street at the time or who has any information is urged to contact detectives at Copy Lane on 0151 777 3161 or 0800 555 111.

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