THE NSPCC has made a desperate plea for Childline volunteers following a 13 per cent rise in counselling sessions since the pandemic began.

NSPCC Cymru said lockdown is having a devastating impact on children as it provided 1,934 counselling sessions or 215 each month from April to December last year.

Cardiff and Prestatyn are home to two of the 12 Childline bases UK-wide and during the pandemic the service 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.

Despite this since last March volunteer numbers UK-wide have dropped by 40 per cent.

Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers but the impact of Covid-19 on the charity’s volunteer workforce means the service in Wales has less than half of the number of active volunteers it usually aims for.

With schools in Wales closed to the majority of pupils until at least January 29 the service is a vital source of support for young people who are struggling without regular social contact.

Over the past ten months, trained counsellors for the NSPCC-run service have heard first-hand the devastating impact that the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic have had on young people’s mental health.

Some of their stories have been shared by the NSPCC as part of its appeal to get more volunteers involved in its service.

A 12-year-old girl from Wales who contacted Childline said: “My dad has left and cut off all contact with me and it has really affected me. I try to convince myself that I am ok, but I am really struggling and walk around with a fake smile. I tried to tell my mum how I feel, but she didn’t listen or understand, it was like she didn’t care. Dad abused and cheated on mum so I guess she finds it hard to hear that I miss him. I need help as I keep thinking about running away.”

A 15-year-old boy from Wales told Childline: “I am feeling so overwhelmed and I am scared for my mental health. I am forcing myself to get out of bed and have lost interest in everything. I am scared that I am not going to succeed in life and feel like a freak. I used to self-harm but managed to stop, but I am getting strong urges to self-harm again. It is really nice to have someone to talk to who I won’t upset.”

Ewa Turczanska, a former dermatologist, has been volunteering as a Childline counsellor in Wales for 15 years. She says: “I’ve heard first-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.”

Senior Supervisor for Childline in Wales, Louise Israel added: “Since the latest national lockdown many children have been reaching out and talking about their emotional and mental health and Childline is continuing to support them with their worries.

“Childline gives them a free and safe space to talk about anything that might be bothering them – no matter how big or small it might seem. The service we provide can be life-changing for children and young people who contact Childline, but often for our volunteers too.

“We’re urgently in need of more volunteers at our bases in Cardiff and Prestatyn to help us answer contacts from children and young people who are often very vulnerable.

“Our counsellors are remarkable and we have a wonderful team here, but we desperately need more English and Welsh speaking volunteers to join us and especially for evening and weekend shifts.”

For more information about volunteering and fundraising visit the charity’s website at