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The front cover of the ISPCC's Annual Report for 2017, showing children under the heading 'Talking Makes Us Stronger'

Childline to answer seven millionth call this year – ISPCC Annual Report looks back on 30 years of listening

The ISPCC’s Annual Report for 2017 highlights a sharp rise in demand among children and young people for its online services, excellent outcomes achieved for children through its childhood support and mentoring services, the dedicated work of its volunteers and the need for continued public support for its work. The Report highlights that Childline is on course to answer its seventh millionth telephone call in 2018. 
In 2017 the number of calls, texts and online contacts answered by ISPCC Childline was 381,911. Over 1,000 different conversations were held each day with children and young people all over Ireland. This is a slight decrease on last year’s figure, however Childline’s online and text options recorded a 33 per cent increase in the numbers of children and young choosing to make contact using those technologies. Over 11,000 new users registered for Childline’s online service for the first time in 2017.
Issues pertaining to personal life (43 per cent), abuse and welfare (15 per cent) and relationships (10 per cent) were most frequently raised by children and young people who engaged in two-way interaction contacts with the Childline service in 2017. Of the total number of two-way interaction phone calls answered by Childline in 2017, 72 per cent came from males and 26 per cent came from females. Conversely, males accounted for just 16 per cent of those who engaged in two-way interaction contacts to Childline by text and just 25 per cent of those who chatted with Childline online, while females made up 62 per cent of text service users and 75 per cent of online chat users respectively.
ISPCC CEO Grainia Long said: “Childline has now been listening to children for three decades. Childline volunteers have changed the lives of countless of children who have called when they may have been feeling lonely, hurt or upset. Many of these children may have felt as though they had no-one who would listen. Childline volunteers have supported, empowered and listened to generations of children regardless of the issues that have been on their minds.
“The increase recorded this year in the number of contacts to our online service options is indicative of the changing nature of children’s behaviour – as more and more children use online services, we need to ensure that we are meeting their needs. We need to ensure that we can be there for every child and young person in Ireland over the next 30 years and beyond, through whichever means they choose to use to get in contact. For this reason, Childline, with the support of the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, is investing substantially in a new digital platform for Childline. We will be launching this new service in 2018 as part of our 30th birthday celebrations.
“The ISPCC 2017 Annual Report highlights the significant impact which ISPCC services have on children and families. All work with individual children and parents is evaluated in terms of not only the outcomes that were achieved as a result of intervention, but also the level and nature of change that has occurred. In 2017, ISPCC Childhood Support Workers worked with 565 children on an individual basis, through individual work, top-up or brief intervention, to build their resilience and support them to cope with situations in their lives. Of the 368 individual children and young people who completed their intervention in 2017, 99 per cent reported being satisfied with the service that they received, 96 per cent of clients’ knowledge and understanding of their issue or current situation increased and 72 per cent of clients changed their behaviours and actions as a result of the intervention. 
“In 2017, Childline service volunteers donated over 55,645 hours to the ISPCC to enable us to run our services. We have, however, experienced some difficulty over the past year in recruiting volunteers to support the Childline service. We would warmly welcome interest from anyone who believes they could, with the support of our comprehensive and excellent training and development programme, play the hugely important role of listening to children who contact Childline.
“To all of those who support ISPCC Childline in any way, whether as a fundraiser, volunteer, corporate supporter or in another capacity, you allow us to keep listening to children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For this, we are so very grateful. ISPCC Childline costs €3.5 million to run every year and relies on public and corporate support for over 90 per cent of this funding. We are very grateful, thus, for the generosity shown to ISPCC Childline by several companies in Ireland and by members of the public the length and breadth of the country who donate to our various campaigns run throughout the year.
“2017 was a seminar year for child protection, with the publication of a report on the audit by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon into use by An Garda Siochana of its powers under Section 12 of the Child Care Act. At last year’s annual report launch, the ISPCC demonstrated how important access to a 24-hour social work service can be for children and young people across Ireland. We need to acknowledge the uncomfortable reality that some children in Ireland today do not feel safe in their homes. In 2017, Childline answered 28,714 two-way interaction contacts in relation to abuse and welfare and an additional 3,122 calls in relation to substance use and abuse. The majority of contacts to Childline come when children, regrettably, have no access to social workers and may have no-one else to call. That remains the case today, as it was in 2017, and so we renew our calls for all-of-government consensus to prioritise child protection in this area.
The ISPCC noted in its report its commitment to best practice in governance. The organisation prepared its accounts in accordance with SORP, the statement of Recommended Practice for Charities, which is considered best practice for charity accounting and reporting.

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