Making a difference
I’ve always worked with children and young people, just in slightly different capacities. My roles have always been centred on caring and making sure children get the support they need. So the helpline fits me perfectly. Before I was the one who would share the information and then somebody else would pass it on. Now I’m the one who’s speaking directly to police and social workers. I know that although I’m not working face-to-face with people, I’m still making a difference.
It’s not just calls
My day is mostly spent answering the phone and responding to emails from adults who are concerned about all sorts of things. People often think that we just take calls, but there’s also a lot of online work too. When responding to a contact it’s important to assess the risks and gather facts, so you can send as much information as possible to the relevant people. Names, ages, if there are any professionals currently working with the family? Stuff like that.
No day is the same
It can vary from day to day, but the main worries are usually around physical abuse and neglect. We get a lot of calls about neglect, somebody might share concerns for a small child, maybe a neighbour that they are worried about. They might have seen a child looking dirty or unkempt and want to talk to someone about it. Sometimes people can call with another concern and it can turn out to be a case of neglect. This is the problem with neglect; it can be difficult to spot.
A while ago, someone called and told me about a three-year-old child who always looked dirty and was living somewhere with lots of health hazards. They were worried the mum might have mental health problems too. It’s important that families like this get help. We can help to safeguard the child and get mum some support. On calls like this I have to be reassuring and practical at the same time. I made a referral to Children’s Services in this instance.
It feels great that I was there so they were able to speak to someone and talk through what could be done to help. I think people can be scared to go directly to the police as they don’t want to escalate a concern that quickly or be responsible for separating a family. The helpline is there for those people. We can explain the process and answer any questions.
Your support matters
I just want to say thank you for supporting us. What we do at the helpline makes a huge difference, and it’s definitely changing lives. With your help, we will continue to do everything we can to safeguard and protect children.