‘A privilege to be part of the NSPCC’

MAGHERAFELT woman Elaine Topping has said that volunteering as a ChildLine Counsellor with the NSPCC is ‘a real privilege.’

Speaking ahead of Volunteer Week (June 1 to 7), Elaine is encouraging others to get involved in supporting the NSPCC’s vital services for children and families.

Elaine, who has been a volunteer for six years, said they are the lifeblood of the organisation.

“I had been looking to volunteer and saw an advert for ChildLine. I was really drawn to what they do and the service they offered young people. I came along to an information session and just immediately knew it was something I wanted to do and commit to,” she explained.

Her role involves a weekly four hour shift, where she answers calls and facilitates online chats from young people from around eight to 18 years.

“The chats can come through a switchboard from all over the UK, so you don’t know what’s going to happen when you come on, and it’s very reactive. Every shift is different, and it gives you a great sense of being there for a young person when they want to talk.”

Elaine said the service ChildLine offers to children and young people is truly unique.

“What we do is so vital to each young person at the time they call, and it is a real privilege to be a part of it. The camaraderie with the teams here is unbelievable and the support that you get is amazing. There will be difficult times, but all of the team are so supportive, and we get great training constantly throughout our time as counsellors,” she added.

Encouraging others to consider how they could help children and young people, Elaine said: “If you are thinking about volunteering with ChildLine, definitely find out more. If you have a commitment to young people and want to listen to and be connected with young people then I think ChildLine is a great service to be involved with. I have enjoyed every moment of my six years here. You will get fantastic support and meet new people, but most importantly you’ll get to listen to young people when they need to talk to most.”

Thanking Elaine for her contribution, Neil Anderson, head of NSPCC services in Northern Ireland, paid tribute to the 400 men and women in Northern Ireland who dedicate time to supporting the charity’s services.

“Thanks to their efforts, we can continue working to transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people,” he said.

To find out more about the various volunteering opportunities available at the NSPCC, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/getinvolved, or call 028 90 351135.