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Monday 21 August 2017

Helpline wants volunteers to deal with 30,000 calls from teens

Teen-line, the freephone confidential helpline for young people, is on course to respond to 30,000 calls from teenagers dealing with worries. Stock photo: Karel Miragaya
Teen-line, the freephone confidential helpline for young people, is on course to respond to 30,000 calls from teenagers dealing with worries. Stock photo: Karel Miragaya

Teen-LIne, the freephone confidential helpline for young people, is on course to respond to 30,000 calls from teenagers dealing with worries.

"We generally get anything between 100 and 140 calls most nights," said its director, Declan Brennan.

"However, we may not get to answer that many. We have anything between three, four or five volunteers, depending on the roster. Like all helplines, we badly need volunteers."

Around 110 calls came through on Easter Sunday, and the three volunteers on duty managed to answer 93.

Listening

The service also receives a sizeable volume of texts. It primarily deals with teens aged between 13 and 19, and the helpline and text service operates every day from 8pm to 11pm.

"We are a listening service, as opposed to a counselling service. We help teenagers consider their options," Mr Brennan said.

Many calls are from teens who are lonely, who need a chat, or who feel that they don't have anyone else they can talk to. The service also gets a lot of silent calls.

"We have letters from kids who thanked us and told us in the letter how they rang for many months and just listened to the volunteer," he added.

"We have people who call us once, and may never call us again - because that one call may have helped them.

"But, like all the helplines, we have people who call us every night, or very regularly."

"We are only ten years old this summer, and we began the text message service in November 2014. Last month, we got just over 2,800 text messages, so it is growing all the time."

The service responded to approximately 25,000 calls last year, and the first two months of this year saw a further hike in calls."Our average answering time is about two minutes," said Mr Brennan.

Twice as many girls phone the service as boys. Meanwhile, twice as many boys use the text number, and that does not vary.

Earlier this month, Toyota Ireland donated €12,000 to Teen-Line Ireland. It is a non-profit organisation that relies solely on charitable contributions to do its work.

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