Children need us to be here at Christmas

For many children this Christmas, Childline will be the friendly voice they need to hear.

At Childline we're always here for children, even on Christmas Day

Igor has been answering Childline calls for over 14 years, helping young people who are struggling. He knows that many children will be isolated at home during the Christmas holidays, alone with their feelings and possibly the very people who could do them most harm. He’s here, whatever their worry and whatever they need to talk about.

"Christmas time is seen as the time for meeting with families and being together, just relaxing and eating. Sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. We have a lot of young people who use Childline on Christmas Day, with a mixture of different issues they talk to us about.

"A lot of young people, where they feel really lonely, call and say, 'I don't want to be alone on Christmas, so Childline is my only family."

A lot of issues children and young people face are related to Christmas itself in one way or another.

Stripping it back, a lot of the issues we see are the usual ones, such as mental health and family relationships, but they can become intensified at Christmas. Some young people really struggle to cope, which can lead to self-harm and feeling suicidal."

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"Last year, a girl who lives in a care home called. Her mum had promised she'd come and pick her up to spend the day with the family, but mum never turned up, and she was really distressed and needed to talk to somebody."

"In the last few years, more issues have revolved around food - with a big spectrum of issues around food at Christmas.

Some young people are very conscious of their eating habits, and may want to eat healthily. They may then end up having arguments or feel uncomfortable because they feel pressured by their family to eat more than they want to. 

Then on the other side of the spectrum, you have young people who have eating disorders, and they feel exposed because they are having meals with family around them."

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"Over the years, I’ve answered hundreds of calls from children in different but no less distressing circumstances – many of them at Christmas. This year will be the same.

I’ve chosen to work most Christmas Days and Boxing Days since I’ve been with Childline – and that’s getting on for 15 years! So I know all about the kinds of calls we get. And it really isn’t the happy time of year it should be for many children.

Hundreds of young people benefit from the Childline service every day. While we may not be able to change their situation, for that period of time they’re talking to a counsellor, you can make it better for them by really listening to what they have to say, and helping them process their feelings and their story for themselves. 

And not many adults do that with young people. Too often, adults can be dismissive and say things like, ‘Don’t worry; it’s just a phase’, ‘You are just attention seeking’, or ‘Get over it’. But as Childline counsellors, we validate their stories and their feelings, which is really important for somebody.

Childline doesn’t reject any young person, regardless of their behaviours. We try to help young people manage their feelings and actions."

"To any young person who is struggling at this time of year - or any time throughout the year - just reach out to talk to us at Childline. It’s a safe space for you to tell your story, explore your feelings and situation. We’re here to listen to what you have to say, take you seriously, and help guide you through your situation to get better insight and understanding, and maybe different perspectives. Don’t keep it all inside; just call, have a chat, and see how it feels."

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child or young person, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for support and advice for free - call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

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