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Minister Zappone joins young people and ISPCC and Vodafone representatives for cake to celebrate Childline's 30th anniversary

ISPCC Childline, in partnership with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, launches next generation digital platform on 30th anniversary milestone

New service for all children launched on Universal Children’s Day


ISPCC Childline, in partnership with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, has launched its new state-of-the-art digital portal to support children, at childline.ie. The national listening service for children and young people has transformed its online offering. It has developed a new live chat service where children can ‘chat’ online directly with a Childline staff member or trained volunteer, an information portal with content designed to inform and empower readers up to the age of 18 and a modernised volunteer portal and contact management operations. This project was made possible through funding and support received from the Vodafone Ireland Foundation. 


ISPCC CEO John Church said “Childline looks back with pride over 30 years of listening to children since the service was first launched and looks forward to a new era – we are launching a new generation of service, designed so that children can contact us and access the support they need in the way that suits them best. 


“More children than ever before are seeking Childline’s support online and Childline’s infrastructure was not fit to keep up with this pace of change. Our partnership with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation has allowed us to realise our vision for what we could achieve for children and the digital portal we are launching today is transformative for our services. 


“In addition to our new live chat service, which is much more user-friendly for the child, we have built a hugely enhanced volunteer portal that will enable efficiencies and ease of use for our incredible volunteers and a new child-friendly information portal, stocked with items that support the kinds of issues that children contact us about.  This is a constantly evolving project, and our new technology will enable us to continuously review what children are asking about or seeking support on, to develop relevant content to support children of different ages, and provide this to them in appropriate formats, including text, video and animation.  We also have launched a Parenting Hub at ispcc.ie, which will host a range of pieces to support parents with some of the issues about which children and parents contact the ISPCC’s services.” 


Director of Strategy and External Affairs, Vodafone Ireland, Liam O’Brien said “The Vodafone Ireland Foundation is delighted to have reached this milestone moment in our partnership with ISPCC Childline. With children and young people seeking support online in ever-increasing numbers, this new portal is a vital resource. Through our partnership with ISPCC we want to give children the ability to connect in different ways so that they can contact Childline when they need to. The new ‘Live-Chat’ system and information content makes support available to children in a way that is both empowering and discreet. We are very proud to have helped to make this possible.”


Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD, said “Three decades since it was launched as a ground-breaking service, Childline is again raising the bar when it comes to supporting our children and young people. In the times we live in it is vital that those who inform, support and protect our children have a digital presence.


“Key to the success of Childline has been accessibility and availability. By extending the online presence both will be improved and more young lives transformed. While we hear a lot about the risks and dangers online, Childline is showing us how the power of the Internet can also be harnessed for good.”


The new digital platform was launched today at a celebratory event at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs offices.  Other speakers at the event included Newstalk’s Technology Correspondent Jess Kelly, EU Digital Girl of the Year Aoibheann Mangan, student entrepreneur Ben Handrick and Jamie McElwaine of the ISPCC’s Children’s Advisory Committee, Monaghan. 


What is the Childline Digital Platform?


Childline, which is this year celebrating 30 years of listening to children, answered its seven-millionth phone call in July. The service answers almost 400,000 contacts every year from children and young people who seek a listening ear or are keen to talk about any issue which may be on their mind.


Childline can be contacted by phone, but also by text or online chat and steady growth has been recorded in the numbers of children and young people choosing to engage through these latter channels. Demand for Childline’s online services rose by 33 per cent in 2017, highlighting that it was imperative that a robust, reliable online service be developed for Childline to replace its existing infrastructure. 


The transformation of Childline’s digital and online offering has been made possible through a donation by the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, which entered into a five-year partnership with Childline in 2016. Extensive consultation with children and young people has also been integral to the development and design of the new platform. The platform will continue to evolve in line with the views and needs of children and young people in Ireland. 


Following a competitive tender process, Dublin-based technology solution provider Singlepoint developed the new digital portal, which incorporates a new Live Chat service; a new information portal for children; a new unified call facilitator portal; a new system for all Childline call data, a new ISPCC.ie website and enhanced online fundraising capability for the ISPCC. Work on the project has been underway for over a year. 


Singlepoint implemented a child-friendly, secure and available solution, which sits on a Drupal Content Management System. The infrastructure will be delivered on the latest technology stack – Amazon Web Services – including cutting edge server-less technology. The websites and digital portal to allow volunteers to manage calls, web and SMS chat sessions with children were built on Singlepoint’s DAPx technology framework – a cloud-ready digitised solution which provides a framework for delivering solutions and services reliably and quickly and will transform how the ISPCC’s services are provided to children and adults.
 

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