Childline delivered 240 counselling sessions to children in Scotland during the 12 days of Christmas last year1, the NSPCC-run service reveals as it prepares to support young people round the clock this festive holiday.

As this year’s festive season fast approaches, Childline counsellors know that while many children will be looking forward to spending time with their loved ones, for others Christmas can be a challenging time.

Next week, on the longest night of the year (Friday, December 22), landmarks across Scotland including Glasgow and Dundee science centres, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, The Falkirk Wheel and Camera Obscura Edinburgh will join dozens more across the UK in lighting up green to create a striking visual reminder that Childline is there for children and young people in their darkest hours.

For some, spending an extended amount of time at home with their family can lead to tensions or amplify existing issues and this can leave many children feeling upset and isolated.

Concerns that children shared with Childline last Christmas included:

  • Increased family conflict#
  • Facing their first Christmas without a loved one
  • Struggling to cope with their own mental health or family members who have mental health issues
  • Concerns about parents or carers drinking more than usual over the Christmas period
  • Feeling worried or guilty about Christmas placing additional financial pressure on their family
  • Struggling with eating or body issues, such as feeling pressure to eat more than usual, worried about eating in front of other people or having to hide disordered eating habits

A few of the young people in Scotland who contacted Childline last year said: “My parents argue a lot and sometimes hit each other. It makes me feel scared and my mum threatens to leave. It’s worse at Christmas, or any special days.”

“My mum is threatening to kick me out of the house because she said I ruined Christmas.”

“I went to stay with my dad over Christmas. my mum’s been acting really weird with me since I got back.”

Childline volunteer, Jess Copner (53) from Aberdeenshire, has volunteered on Christmas day for the past two years and is on duty on Christmas Eve this year.

The mum and secondary school teacher said: “I did a shift last year which started at 7.15am so I had to be very organised and did lots of food preparation and gift wrapping beforehand.

“As my children are older they were just getting up when I got back, so I didn’t miss out on much at home.

“Volunteering for Childline is not completely altruistic, I also get a lot out of it. It’s great to give something back, especially at Christmas, it makes me feel good to know I’m helping others.”

Adeniyi Alade, service head of Childline, based in Aberdeen, said: “Sadly we know Christmas is not always a happy time for children. Hundreds of young people in Scotland contact Childline every year during the festive break.

“For some young people the issues they face all year round can become worse at this time of year, with societal pressures and expectations being added to existing problems.

“With schools closed for the holiday, children also have limited access to wider support networks which can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“Christmas can also place a number of extra pressures on families, from financial to emotional, and for those children who are struggling with a range of issues our trained counsellors can provide a real lifeline.”

To enable the charity to be there for all children this festive season, visit the NSPCC website to donate to the charity’s Christmas appeal. Just £4 could help a counsellor answer a call.

You can also help raise vital funds for the service by rallying your friends and family to sign up to the Walk for Children and walk 5k on the 22nd of December.

The Childline service is here for children every day, even on Christmas Day. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When a child needs help and Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline and it’s vital that our counsellors are here and ready to listen and support children across the UK.

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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