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Growing numbers of children calling Childline with mental health concerns and suicidal thoughts

By Paul Brackley

The NSPCC is raising funds for Childline this Christmas (picture posed by a model)
The NSPCC is raising funds for Childline this Christmas (picture posed by a model)

Funds will be raised for the NSPCC service at Cambridge's Big Switch-on

Light Up Christmas for Children - the NSPCC campaign supported by the Cambridge Independent
Light Up Christmas for Children - the NSPCC campaign supported by the Cambridge Independent

The ‘Big Switch-On’ of Cambridge’s Christmas lights on Sunday (November 19) is supporting the NSPCC this year.

Text donations can be made and badges are for sale to raise funds for the charity to help it run its services, including Childline, the free phone number and web chat service for children who need to talk to someone.

The Cambridge Independent is supporting the Big Switch-On and the NSPCC’s campaign, called ‘Light Up Christmas for Children’, which is working with towns and cities across the country during their festive lights ceremonies.

Increasing numbers of children and teenagers are contacting Childline about mental health concerns, including many who are self-harming or suicidal.

Figures showing the growing demand on Childlines service
Figures showing the growing demand on Childlines service

One 14-year-old girl told a counsellor last year: “I want to end it tonight. I’ve written a suicide note and have everything ready.”

Sarah Lambley, the NSPCC fundraising manager for Cambridge, said: “Childline is there for children and teenagers day and night. However, developments in technology have meant that young people are now communicating with us in very different ways which is placing the service under real pressure.

“In particular we are getting more calls later in the evening and many more contacts online, with these counselling sessions taking twice as long as those conducted over the phone.”

She added: “We are really excited that a great campaigning newspaper like the Cambridge Independent is backing our efforts to get to young people in need of our help more quickly.

“We would also urge children and teenagers to keep contacting us and to always try and wait until a counsellor becomes available.”

Childline is also making a nationwide appeal for more volunteer counsellors, especially people who are willing to work in the evenings and overnight when many young people are most in need of support and advice.

Cambridge’s Christmas lights will be switched on at 5pm in the market square by star of stage and screen Katherine Kingsley, who is backing the NSPCC campaign, following a day of family activities and live performances throughout the city.

• Moved by what you’ve read? Donate £4 to Childline by texting ‘LIGHTS 12’ to 70800. Text costs include your donation of £4 plus your standard network rate. Please ensure you have the bill payer’s permission. The NSPCC will receive 100 per cent of your donation.

• Children can contact Childline anytime free of charge by calling 0800 1111 or start a 1-2-1 chat at childline.org.uk.

Complete guide to the Big Switch-On of Cambridge’s Christmas lights


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