What's it like to be a ChildLine counsellor?

Listening to traumatic experiences, whether it's abuse, neglect or eating problems - it can be tough, says ChildLine counsellor Atiyah Wazir

This year marks our ChildLine service's 30th anniversary. 

The ChildLine helpline relies on volunteers to make sure we can be there to support children when they need us. 

Our trained counsellors talk to children, helping them with any problems they're facing.

We talked to volunteer ChildLine counsellor Atiyah Wazir about what it's like volunteering for ChildLine and why she decided to join the team.

"When I was a child, someone close to me told me they'd been sexually abused and made me promise not to tell anyone. I only told someone about 10 years later.

"Looking back, I realise that if I'd been able to talk to someone in confidence, I would have.

"I became a ChildLine volunteer in 2010. I wanted to do something for children who desperately need support, someone to listen to them and someone to believe in them.

"We get a lot of support on our shifts and there's always a positive atmosphere in the counselling room. We have de-briefs after every shift, and these help us cope with contacts that might be hard.

"Listening to traumatic experiences, whether it's abuse, neglect, eating problems or anxieties about schools - it can be tough. 

"The best part about being a counsellor is knowing that I'm making a difference, helping young people to feel empowered and to get help."
Atiyah / ChildLine counsellor

"I sometimes wish I could hug the person who's crying on the other end of the phone or take them away from their suffering. But I can't. 

"ChildLine shifts can be very difficult - and the things that motivate me to keep coming back, are sometimes just the smallest things. Someone saying, 'You're the only person who believes me', or 'Thank you, you've made me feel like I'm important.'.

"The best part about being a counsellor is knowing that I'm making a difference, helping young people to feel empowered and to get help."

About ChildLine volunteers

ChildLine volunteers come from a broad range of backgrounds, with varied knowledge and experience. Some of our volunteers had no experience in counselling, but knew they wanted to help. 

All our counsellors go through an intensive training program to equip them with the skills they need. 

There's a strong support base and briefing sessions before and after each counselling shift to provide the best possible mental and emotional support for all involved. 

Over 23,000 children and young people talked to Childline about abuse last year

Explanation: In 2015/16 Childline carried out 23,493 counselling sessions with children and young people about some form of abuse. A further 3,271 counselling sessions related to domestic abuse or partner abuse.

See also Indicator 7 in How safe are our children? 2016 and our Childline annual review 2015/16: It turned out someone did care.

illustration of umbrella

There were nearly 93,000 Childline counselling sessions about mental health-related concerns last year

Explanation: Four of the top ten issues related to mental health and wellbeing.

These were:

  • low self-esteem/unhappiness
  • self-harm
  • suicidal thoughts
  • feelings and mental health/depressive disorders.

These four issues were the main focus of 92,891 counselling sessions - 32% of the 291,753  counselling sessions carried out with children and young people in 2015/16.  

See also Indicator 7 in How safe are our children? 2016.

1 in 3 children have been a victim of cyberbullying.

Explanation: Based on a poll of 11- to 17-year-olds undertaken by internet security firm McAfee. 35% reported that they have experienced cyberbullying – compared with 16% the previous year. Four in 10 said they had witnessed others being picked on online – almost double the 22% recorded the previous year. 

Find out how you can support ChildLine

Volunteer for Childline

Volunteer for Childline helpline and be there when a child needs you most.
Volunteer for Childline

Childline turns 30

Childline has been a place for children to turn for 30 years. We take a look at what's changed and how we've been there for generations.

Learn more

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Abuse can affect children in all kinds of ways. Help us make sure more abused children get the support they need.

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