Sunderland and East Durham MPs back call to increase funding for Childline after massive increase in demand

MPs Julie Elliott and Grahame Morris are urging the Health Secretary to increase help to vulnerable children.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 9:02 am
Julie Elliott

The Sunderland Central and Easington MPs are among seven from across the North East who have written to Jeremy Hunt to support the NSPCC’s calls for the government to increase its funding for Childline.

The seven have signed an open letter, backing the child protection charity’s Are You There? campaign.

Easington MP Grahame Morris.

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A total of 130 MPs and peers have signed the open letter after the helpline saw a rise in demand from children struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The MPs and the NSPCC are asking that a slice of a £300million pledge set out in the recently- published Government green paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision be used to fund the service.

Latest figures show that in 2015/16, Childline counsellors had to alert emergency services on average six times a day about children who were talking about suicide.

In 2015/16 there were 19,481 counselling sessions about suicide held by Childline – this is 120% increase compared to 2010/11 when there were 8,835.

The letter to the health minister reads: “Services like the NSPCC’s Childline are now on the front line of mental health support for young people.

“Last year one in three Childline counselling sessions were about mental health and emotional wellbeing. The majority of these took place outside school hours – many in the middle of the night.”

Last week the NSPCC revealed that since April 2014 schools made 35,069 referrals to NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the North of England, but almost a third of these were deemed ineligible for treatment.

The charity and MPs are now warning that increased demand for support is placing the system under real pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children.

In the letter they said: “The NSPCC urgently needs to increase both the number of available volunteers and to improve and expand the training they receive.”