ChildLine joins forces with schools in £1million appeal to tackle abuse and neglect across Greater Manchester

Esther Rantzen CBE and basketball legend John Amaechi OBE teamed up to launch a £1million appeal for ChildLine’s latest service which aims to join forces with 980 Greater Manchester schools.

The ChildLine founder was joined by the retired NBA star, psychologist and ambassador for the charity, who emphasised the importance of addressing the issue of abuse at an early age.

The aim of the three-year appeal is to enable the NSPCC to deliver its pioneering service to 70,000 children by 2016.

Esther told MM: “It been 28 years since we first launched ChildLine, and in that time we have helped more than 3.2million children, it’s extraordinary the way it has grown and changed, but we still need to keep in touch with what children need and provide the service they want. 

“You never quite how children are going to use us, but we have to make sure they are comfortable, that they understand what we’re there for, that we speak their language and we listen to them, that’s the crucial thing.

She added: “Every child helps and if you can help children effectively, and in time they never forget it. That’s why we are working with primary schools to ensure this happens.”

Also at the launch was ChildLine chief executive Peter Wanless, who heralded the launch at the Central library and praised the progress made within the area.

PROFOUND EFFECT: John Amaechi said volunteering for this service will make anyone a better person

The NSPCC have already been into more than 380 schools and a team of two area coordinators and 40 volunteers have gone out to 100 schools in the last month alone.

Former NBA basketballer John Amaechi said: “I think it’s clear when I see these assemblies in the schools. These 9, 10 and 11 year olds, they know there’s harm going on outside.

“What we are doing is trying to end generations worth of abuse. For the children who might have gone through things who may end up being persecutors that process is cut short and instead they are made more resilient and have less chance of becoming perpetrators of the future.

“There are so many young people who carry theses worries and this service is showing children how they can unburden themselves of that without the waffle. It’s simple, these are the people you can talk to.

“If anyone was to volunteer for this service they’d be a better person out of it. The training the NSPCC provide and the interaction with the young people will have a profound effect on anyone in a positive way.”

ChildLine have been fielding volunteers into local schools to talk sensitively but honestly to children about types of abuse and who they can talk to if they are concerned about it.

The assemblies are followed up by sessions where volunteers are able to talk with children on a one-to-one basis.

Headmaster at Old Trafford ‘s Seymour Park Community Primary Tony Ray told MM: “It’s significant because children want an opportunity to talk about some of these things and it’s quite often the first time they ever get that chance.

“For the first time children are being given the opportunity to talk to a grown up about grown up issues and it’s fantastic the reaction the children give, they come up with lots of interesting responses.”

The charity has found that on average two children in every classroom are victims of abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents.

Schools are now being encouraged to get involved with the free service and ChildLine want to reach every school in Greater Manchester.

Area Manager for ChildLine Karen Squillino said: “Schools have received the service really well as it fits in with their PHSE curriculum and also their safe guiding requirements under Ofsted so it really sits well.

“It is difficult to talk to 9 to 11 year olds about abuse but because the assemblies and the workshops have been developed really sensitively and really age appropriately, schools are happy for us to give those kinds of messages to the children.”

If you or anyone you know are having problems or need to talk the ChildLine the number is 0800 1111

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