Last Christmas day, we received 1,020 calls from children who were frightened, hurt or lonely. This year won’t be any different.
Because Christmas Day is one of Childline’s busiest, we know that not every child’s Christmas wish list is full of toys.
For some children, their wish list is very different, because what should be the most joyful of times can sometimes be the most frightening time in private.
We would like to tell you about Sophie. Only nine, she is still so young. Yet she’s old enough to know how to pretend she can’t wait for Christmas, just like her classmates when they are all asked to write Santa letters at school.
She would love to get excited about Christmas, but sadly all she feels is dread. While everyone in her class excitedly writes their long list of toys and games, Sophie tries not to let the panic overwhelm her. She lives on her nerves most of the year anyway.
But Christmas is worse.
There seems to be more drinking in the house. Mammy shouts more and cries. Daddy is around more. They have put up the Christmas tree together and Sophie was even allowed to put the star on the top. She should be full of joy, but she’s not.
Last year the tree was pulled down during a row. Sophie’s favourite bauble was smashed. So was her Mammy’s face. Sophie was hurt too.
Sophie is good at pretending. Even though she is only nine, she has already learned to hide what’s going on at home. So she writes some ideas on her sheet and hands it back to the teacher.
It’s not the list she really wants to write though. That one doesn’t have any toys. It includes the simplest of wishes: that Daddy won’t get angry; that nobody will be hurt; that Mammy won’t cry.
Imagine if Childline wasn’t there when a child reaches out for help?
Childline volunteers are there to listen, support and protect. We can help children feel less frightened and alone. We empower them to get the help they may need. We know only too well, that while many houses around the country are filled with Christmas fun and excitement, there are also houses filled with violence and fear.
The best gift Sophie, and many children like her, can get this Christmas is having someone who can listen to her – any time of the day or night. Even Christmas Day.
Here at Childline, our light is always on. Even when the joy of Christmas doesn’t reach every child, every child can reach us.
Your support helps change children’s lives long beyond Christmas Day.