Last Summer (2012) I joined the team at ChildLine as a counsellor. After an interview, intense training, and some on the job experience, I was ready to be apart of the national service that provides a lifeline-like service for children and young people. I carried my experience through until January at which point juggling my University and many other commitments I decided to take a break. This post will not be about children or young people I have spoken to. I’m sure you will understand that everything there is confidential and I would not ever share anything. What you hear as a counsellor stays in the room and doesn’t leave it. But, since the experience quite a few people have asked me what exactly I did? How the experience was for me? And so on, and so on. So this is a brief-ish post about that.
What is ChildLine? ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen.
Being a counsellor at ChildLine: This is not a paid experience – it is voluntary. You work and commit yourself to shifts for free. In return you get amazing training even before you start, great supervisors who really support and monitor your growth, you make friends and your learn new skills and develop as an individual. I think emotionally and mentally you grow stronger throughout this experience. The working environment is non-judgemental and so easy to contribute to if you don’t feel comfortable with something just speak up. As a counsellor you work on the helplines, talking to vulnerable children. The thing I most loved about volunteering at ChildLine was as a counsellor you aren’t supposed to ‘fix’ everything or even anything. Listening is the first step to being a good counsellor I’d say. After every shift (once a week) I felt like I had made a tiny, small possibly even minuscule difference and that was enough for me to want to go back. It can be difficult but think about it there are thousands of volunteers everyday on the ChildLine helpline if each one makes a tiny difference each day, together we make quite an impact (if I do say so myself). So I decided to do this post…
What I learnt: I learnt so much during my time at ChildLine but mostly I learnt that stereotypical views on things such as self harm are so wrong and our view as a society can be quite restrictive for young children. I watched a YouTube video from Louise where she talks about self harming and how it can be perceived as ‘attention seeking’ but I learnt that many people who self harm do it to cope. To deal with the pain. Volunteering at ChildLine gave me a new perspective.
How you can help: If you want to get involved or check out how you can get involved click here. Like I said this is a charity service it runs mostly on donations and because of its volunteers. It can be a daunting opportunity to explore but it is so worthwhile. I’m so honoured I got the chance to volunteer, contribute and learn. You can also donate to ChildLine click here if you want to.
Finally if you are someone who is concerned about a child’s wellbeing, or if you are a child or young person who needs someone to talk to you can always contact the 24 hour helpline on 0800 1111. Don’t suffer in silence you will always have a voice with ChildLine. You will (for the majority) have anonymity if you choose it. If you don’t want to talk to someone you can always use the online 1-1 chat service on the childline.org.uk website.
This is more of a serious post than I usually put up but I felt that I should share my experience with you all because of how much it has influenced me. I didn’t want to break any sort of confidentiality so I’m sorry if this post seems generic (I don’t think it does) if you have any other questions you are always welcome to comment below or tweet me @helloiammariam and I will try to answer them.