A new national hub for ISPCC as “Team Childline” logs over one million hours dedicated to listening to children and young people 24/7

ISPCC CEO John Church with Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman

For 35 years, Childline has been part of the fabric of Irish society and as we celebrate the opening of our new national hub in Dun Laoghaire with Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, we remain as dedicated as ever to our mission of supporting children and young people.  

ISPCC staff and volunteers are a united team, determined that there will always be someone to listen if a child or young person needs to talk.  

John Church, CEO ISPCC said: “Our new national hub is a tangible demonstration of our continuing commitment to the needs of children and young people and reflects our desire to provide the best possible working environment for the teams delivering Childline’s full suite of services.  The contemporary space enables us to continue to pursue and deliver a digital-first strategy, ensuring that we are there for every child or young person in Ireland. Anytime and for any reason.” 

“The ISPCC has played an important role in the support and protection of children and young people in Ireland over many years. It has created an anonymous and non-judgemental space for children and young people to be heard and to be listened to, and I hope ISPCC staff and volunteers enjoy many productive years in their new national hub,” said Minister O’Gorman. 

Staff and volunteers are at the very heart of Childline. They give back in the most generous spirit. One million hours is a phenomenal amount of time, equating to 114 years or 41,666 days. And yet that is the amount of time that ISPCC’s amazing volunteers have dedicated to Childline’s 24/7 listening service.  

Val Beegan, a volunteer who has been involved with Childline for over 25 years, says the most crucial issue over the last quarter century is the decline of mental health in children and young people.  

Mental health is one of the most common reasons children and young people contact helplines, including Childline, according to the recently published Voices of Children & Young People Around the World global child helpline data report.  

In just five days’ time (November 20), it is World Children’s Day, a day to support children’s rights. By then, Childline will have had over 85,000 connections with children and young people since the start of 2023.  

“There has never been a more important time than now to prioritise the mental health of young people, as families face financial uncertainty, while young people tackle new levels of social media pressure and are exposed to the reality of wars and a global pandemic at a very early age,” said John Church. Childline can be reached online at Childline.ie or by calling 1800 66 66 66. 

Some young people may feel that their issue is not important enough to seek support. But we believe everything in life is worth talking about.  

ISPCC welcomes Budget proposals for improved mental health services for children and young people but notes there’s more to be done

ISPCC welcomes Minister Mary Butler’s Budget 2024 announcements for children and young people’s mental health, in particular the creation of a new central referral mechanism. This will allow the HSE to triage referrals to the right service ensuring what the Minister refers to as a ‘no wrong door’ approach. We know first-hand of the frustrations of children and families when they are trying to access appropriate support and end up being moved around from waiting list to waiting list.

The allocation of funding for a new mental health app is positive and ought to help with signposting users to the services and supports that are available.  

We also welcome the Minister’s comments on the important role NGOs, such as ISPCC, play in the delivery of mental-health support services in the community. As an organisation dedicated to supporting children and young people, ISPCC recognises the need for systemic change in how we, as a society, address mental-health concerns. Therefore, it is heartening to hear that a new head has been appointed to lead the work on reforming child and youth mental health.

The Budget 2024 investment is a welcome successor to that contained in Budget 2023. Then, funding was allocated for the first ever Clinical Lead for Youth Mental Health and the establishment of a dedicated National Office for Child and Youth Mental Health. These are both key steps in providing leadership and oversight in this area.

ISPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs Fiona Jennings says that “we recognise the systemic challenges our mental-health sector faces and believe these can only be overcome by a concerted effort among all stakeholders. The announcement of a triage service to help direct children and young people to appropriate services is hugely welcome and will go some way to alleviating waiting lists.

“However, mental health funding remains a long way off from the 10% target of overall health spending by 2025.”

The combination of the proposed triage system, the establishment of the child poverty and wellbeing unit in the Department of An Taoiseach and that mental health may be a spotlight issue in the next national policy framework for children and young people mean that these initiatives ought to go some way to realising the pathfinder way of working and we welcome this.

Children with complex needs are a group of children who will require a particular focus and all efforts must be employed to ensure they do not slip through the cracks.

There has never been a more important time than now to prioritise the mental health of young people, as families face financial uncertainty, young people tackle new levels of social media pressure and they are exposed to the reality of wars and the aftermath of a global pandemic.

At Childline, we are dedicated to helping children with difficult situations and empowering them to strengthen their resilience, equipping them to cope with adversity and to come back even stronger after a difficult or stressful experience.

Childline can be reached online at Childline.ie or by calling 1800 66 66 66.

The service is confidential, non-judgemental and non-directive, meaning it doesn’t tell children and young people how to solve their problems.

Some children may feel that their issue is not important enough to seek support. But we believe everything in life is worth talking about.

ISPCC and acclaimed author Katie O’Donoghue team up for FREE webinar on coping with anxiety for primary-school teachers and their students

Anxiety can strike even the youngest among us, and it’s never too early to learn coping strategies. So ISPCC and acclaimed author Katie O’Donoghue are collaborating to present ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’, a free workshop for primary-school teachers and their students on September 26. 

The one-hour webinar is aimed at children aged between five and eight years of age.  ISPCC parenting leads, Siobhan Harvey and Niamh Clarke, will be joined by Katie O’Donoghue, an author, illustrator and art psychotherapist.  

 The webinar is based on Katie’s debut book ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’, the tale of a woodland creature who hasn’t left his nest since last autumn. He needs to gather nuts for the long winter to come but he’s too worried to leave his cosy home.

This well-being workshop combines creative therapeutic activities and storytelling. All that is needed to participate in the webinar are the following:

• Colouring templates, provided by ISPCC

• Sheets of blank paper

• Colouring pens/crayons/markers

• An envelope for each participating child

• Parent information guidance sheet on worry time, provided by ISPCC

This is the latest collaboration between ISPCC and Katie after a successful webinar series earlier this year, which focussed on strengthening resilience and coping with anxiety. 

We at ISPCC know what is worrying children and young people in Ireland; we know what is on their minds and we know how to support them.

Participants who register by clicking here will also be in with a chance to win a signed copy of Katie’s latest book The Little Otter Who Tried, which aims to teach children valuable lessons about self-care, resilience and the best ways of asking for help.

Webinar details are:  

Tuesday, September 26, 11.30am to 12.30pm


Could you help Childline listen to children?

The Childline listening service is now recruiting volunteers for its offices in Dun Laoghaire, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Drogheda. Our volunteers are dedicated to helping Ireland’s children.

The service provided by ISPCC is always available to any child and young person across Ireland who would like to talk about any topic on their mind.  

Childline’s 24/7 listening service is free and confidential and can be reached online or by phone.  

Volunteers with the service come from all walks of life and are united by one common purpose: to help ensure no child or young person in Ireland has to face their challenges alone.  

An excellent team spirit and sense of support prevails at Childline units throughout the country. Volunteers receive full training in advance of answering their first contact and ongoing support and upskilling thereafter. 

Childline regional supervisor Mary Nolan Durkan says: “Childline volunteers play a vital role in helping to ensure there is always someone there to listen, support and empower children and young people in Ireland when they seek a listening ear. The Childline training course is a comprehensive course which equips volunteers with the skills to deliver a quality service to children.”

One of our volunteers Dee says that she never expected to get so much back from volunteering in her own life. “I have learned so many new skills and made friends from all walks of life. We are all united with a common purpose: to make sure every child has somewhere they can turn.”

Another volunteer Liz says that although she was initially nervous at the thought of becoming a volunteer with Childline, she is delighted that she did it. “People always think that you’re dealing with the most neglected children of society but this is not necessarily the truth, so many children just need to talk. It tugs at my heartstrings that so many children need Childline.”

If you would like more information on becoming a Childline volunteer and helping the service to listen to children and young people, please contact [email protected]

ISPCC delighted to receive €50,000 from the RTE Toy Show Appeal grants for 2023

ISPCC is delighted to announced that it has been awarded €50,000 from the RTE Toy Show Appeal grants for 2023 by Community Foundation Ireland. 

The charity, which operates the Childline suite of services, is honoured to be among the 147 registered children’s charities and community groups across the island of Ireland chosen to share the incredible amount of money raised. 

Each year, the Late Late Toy Show raises money to help children in need and last November viewers helped to raise almost €4 million to help improve the quality of children’s lives. 

This is the second consecutive year that ISPCC has received this grant and this year’s funding will be dedicated to our Childline Digital Support service. Our Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing supports, available nationwide. are aimed at anxiety management for young people, and their parents/carers. They empower those experiencing low to moderate anxiety, acting as an early intervention strategy that addresses wellbeing challenges before they escalate.

The free online programmes include interactive tools, activities, mood monitors and journals to encourage users to apply Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to their own lives. Throughout the duration of the early intervention programme, users will be supported by fully trained ISPCC volunteers. 

John Church, ISPCC CEO, says “All of us at ISPCC want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated to The Late Late Show. This incredibly generous donation will help us support children and young people suffering from anxiety. It is a topic frequently discussed by children who speak with Childline both online and on the phone. Our Digital Mental Health programmes are empowering for both children and their parents.”



About RTE Toy Show Appeal

Inspired by children, the RTE Toy Show Appeal works to bring the magic of the Late Late Toy Show to every child in Ireland. By funding essential support, health, well-being, play and creativity we aim to change children’s lives for good.

The donations to the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal, are received and managed by registered charity, Community Foundation Ireland with whom we work in partnership. For more information about Community Foundation Ireland,

please see here: Community Foundation Ireland – For change. For better. For all.

The RTÉ Toy Show Appeal has raised over €17.5million for children’s charities across the island of Ireland to date.


Krystal & The Queers come out in support of ISPCC ahead of fabulous Cork fundraiser

On May 19, Cork will be buzzing as Krystal & The Queers take to the stage at the city’s Gaia bar on 98th Street for a night of fun and frolics with all funds raised going to ISPCC. 

The Cork drag scene is thriving and the unforgettable performances of Krystal Queer and her fellow drag queens Liam Bee and Kia Koke are inspired by the New York club vibe of the 1980s and 1990s. 

Prepare to be surprised as Krystal Queer herself has said that you never know what you’re going to get with her. Characters such as Meg Griffin and Marge Simpson may even make special guest star appearances…

All will be revealed on May 19th. 

ISPCC, and its suite of Childline services including the 24/7 listening service, is a cause very dear to Krystal Queer. 

“This fundraiser holds a special place in my heart as when I was younger, I was deeply affected by the suicide of a friend. Unfortunately, a legion of others can say the same. We want to turn that grief into a positive force and aid Childline by doing what we do best – laughing, dancing and celebrating life. 

“Countless young people suffer in silence and darkness so we are pledging to be as loud and as bright as we can be. Everyone’s mental health matters – whether you’re a dentist, a driver or a drag queen.”

Doors open at 6.30pm, the performance starts at 7.30pm and will be followed by a DJ. Tickets priced at €10 are available on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/drag-show-in-aid-of-childline-tickets-619861310867?aff=ebdssbdestsearch or at the door. 

A raffle on the night includes such fantastic prizes as one night B&B at the luxury four-star Kingsley Hotel, a €50 Spitjack voucher and much more.

ISPCC needs to raise over 75% of its funding through donations each year to ensure we can be there to support children and young people 24-hours a day, 365 days of the year.  We rely on the generosity of the public and are grateful for all support. We encourage children to reach out for any reason. To donate to ISPCC, https://www.idonate.ie/event/dragshowchildline

How ISPCC can help parents of children suffering from anxiety

ISPCC and author and illustrator Katie O’Donoghue are continuing their successful series of free webinars for parents and teachers that will provide them tools and tips to help bolster children’s resilience and manage anxiety.  

The first in the series which was aimed at parents, focussed on resilience, while the next webinar, taking place on April 25, will help parents to support children suffering with anxiety.     

 At ISPCC, we know what is worrying children and young people in Ireland; we know what is on their minds and we know how to support them. Through this series of bespoke webinars, parents and teachers will learn skills and strategies for children between five and 12 years of age who are feeling anxious.    

 ISPCC parenting leads Siobhan Harvey and Niamh Clarke will be joined by author, illustrator and art psychotherapist Katie O’Donoghue, whose second book The Little Otter Who Tried has recently been published by Gill Books.    

The Little Otter Who Tried is a beautifully illustrated book that aims to teach children valuable lessons about self-care, resilience and how to ask for help; vital lessons that will be covered throughout the webinar series. Participants will also gain a better understanding of anxiety, as well as increased knowledge of coping skills to support children and a toolkit of resources.   


Webinar details are:  

 Parents – Managing Anxiety  

April 25th, 7-8pm  

Teaching Professionals  

May 9th, 3-3:30pm where both building resilience and managing anxiety will be covered. 

Participants who register on ispcc.ie will also be in with a chance to win a signed copy of The Little Otter Who Tried.   


ISPCC response to the ‘incomprehensible’ St John Ambulance Child safeguarding shortcomings

The victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and grooming at St John Ambulance are to be commended for speaking out in such difficult circumstances in the pursuit of truth and justice. 

Today sees the long-awaited publication of the inquiry into such allegations at St John Ambulance. 

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, recently nominated Judge of the Circuit Court, is to be applauded for his forthrightness in laying bare the serious and hugely concerning child safeguarding issues at St John Ambulance, many remaining unrectified to this day. 

It is shocking that it is only in light of the report’s publication that St John Ambulance has said it will develop “robust internal accountability frameworks” and committed to employing a full-time safeguarding officer. 

The safety of children should always be at the heart of such organisations.

It is incredibly important that when children speak out about such heinous crimes, as they did at the time, that they are believed and that the appropriate policies and procedures are followed. Children need to see something is being done by the adults who are in place to safeguard them. This did not happen at St John Ambulance. 

John Church, ISPCC CEO said: “St John Ambulance cadets are children aged 11-18 years of age. It is incomprehensible to learn that any organisation working with and/or involving children did not have a finalised child safeguarding policy in place, a requirement by law. 

“Child sexual abuse is deemed an adverse childhood experience meaning children who are subjected to such experiences are potentially at heightened risk of other physical and mental health issues in adulthood. All victims and survivors ought to receive the necessary supports they deserve.”  

Whilst St John Ambulance has reportedly stated it undertook a due diligence process in response to the delay in the publication of this report, it is now time it undertakes the same due diligence process to address its child safeguarding obligations. This is not historic child sexual abuse, it is very much abuse that happened in the recent past, and it is difficult to see how such crimes can be prevented from happening again considering the governance issues Dr Shannon has pointed out. No organisation should ever put its reputation before the safety and protection of a child in its care. 

The ISPCC notes that St John Ambulance has followed Dr Shannon’s recommendation and offered an apology to its victims and survivors, accepting the shortcomings of the structures enabled the grooming and abuse of children. 

It is not enough to proffer an apology, action must be taken to safeguard children at all times. 


ISPCC welcomes the official establishment day of Coimisiún na Meán


ISPCC welcomes the official establishment day of Coimisiún na Meán which has been set up in accordance with the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act (OSMR).  

It is a great development to see Niamh Hodnett take on the role of Online Safety Commissioner. ISPCC has campaigned for the establishment of such an office since it was recommended by the Law Reform Commission in 2016. 

We commend Minister Catherine Martin for empowering the Online Safety Commissioner to develop binding online safety codes that hold designated online services to account for how they deal with harmful online content.

John Church, ISPCC CEO, said: “The establishment of Coimisiún na Meán and the office of Online Safety Commissioner is a crucial step in improving the safety and experience of children and young people in the ever-changing digital landscape. This is an extremely positive day for children and young people and we look forward to supporting the Coimisiún in any way we can.”