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Childline is ‘at breaking point’ as funds drop

Childline is reaching breaking point due to the crisis that has hit the charity sector.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) will warn today that if the current trend continues, it will no longer be able to provide 24-hour nationwide support services.

The well-known children’s charity is set to hold its AGM today. At the moment, around one-in-three calls to its flagship service Childline currently goes unanswered.

It said recently it is recruiting additional volunteers to join the Childline team. It costs €500 to recruit, select and fully train a volunteer to deal with all types of calls.

It is also seeking funding and support from corporate bodies to employ additional staff so that it can have greater numbers on the difficult-to-cover shifts, where volunteers may not be available, such as early mornings and over-night rosters.

Last year, the vital service received over 664,005 contacts, and responded to 463,396 of those through its phone and web-based services.

Overnight

In relation to the telephone service, it has a small number of staff that cover overnight shifts because funding doesn’t allow them to have any more than that. Volunteers man the phone lines up until 10pm.

Childline has been listening to children for 26 years.

However, many Irish charities have been hit by a drop in income, coupled with an increased demand for services

A survey conducted by The Wheel, a national network of 950 charities, found that 59pc said that their overall income has fallen in the past year.

Over a third of charities said that they have cut back or suspended services in the past year.

Ivan Cooper, director of advocacy with The Wheel said that the emphasis in relation to future policy, will need to be “to ensure that the Government continue to fund Ireland’s charities appropriately, to enable them to do their work, and that charities work to make themselves as efficient and effective as they can”.

Mr Cooper underlined that it was vital the public “continue to support charities in the way they have over the years.”

hnews@herald.ie


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