“I feel that the Childline service is even more important to children over the Christmas period as that is the time where children are at times most vulnerable, more so than any other time of the year.”
How long have you been a volunteer with Childline?
I’ve been a volunteer since 1998, so it would make it 23 years since last March.
Why did you start volunteering?
At the time I was involved in a musical society and wanted to be involved in doing voluntary work also.
I noticed a small ad in a local paper one day looking for potential Childline volunteers for their Limerick branch, so having a love of children – and also working in the childcare sector – I felt that it would be a perfect role that I would love to pursue.
How do you find the experience of volunteering with Childline?
The experience of volunteering in Childline over the years is a never-ending journey in that you are always learning. It opens your eyes to what young people are experiencing; their challenges, problems, traumas and difficulties and of course the general trends and what interests the young people of today.
Personally, the experience has thought me so much. I wouldn’t have gotten that from anywhere else.
The main things volunteering has thought me is being a good listener in general – that has spoken volumes to me outside of Childline and not taking things for granted or taking things personally, empowering others to help themselves and the importance of praise and encouragement.
Having a young person open up and trust you to share what they are going through makes you feel that maybe you have made some kind of impact on what they are going through.
It has also been so rewarding, when a caller says even ‘thank you’. It gives you great satisfaction that they appreciate your time listening to them.
There has always been a great bunch of people in the unit over the years. It has always been great to have such great support, guidance and friendships over the years. We also can’t forget the social outings over the years, as there’s been some great memorable ones.
Have you volunteered with the service over Christmas before, and will you be this year?
Yes I have volunteered with Childline over the Christmas period nearly every year since I started.
Why do you think it is important that Childline is there for children over the Christmas period?
I feel that the Childline service is even more important to children over the Christmas period as that is the time where children are at times most vulnerable, more so than any other time of the year.
Christmas for many young people is a time for joy, happiness, excitement, family get-togethers and enjoying the Christmas season with their traditions and festivities as many families do.
It is great to hear from young people who want to share that excitement when they contact Childline – but for many young people, Christmas is a time when they can be at their lowest.
They may think of loved ones who have passed away, they could be more exposed to violence/abuse in the home, they could feel suicidal, loneliness can set in a lot during the Christmas period with young people also.
It can be the worst time of year for a lot of young people and not something they look forward to, so it is important that they know Childline is there for them at any time and for any reason.
With thanks to the exceptional dedication of our volunteers like Val, Childline will be there for every child and young person in Ireland every day and night this Christmas season.
All service details can be found at Childline.ie.
Childline relies on donations for 75 per cent of the funding which keeps our service listening to children 24 hours a day, every day.
To support Childline this Christmas, click here.