Childline counselling sessions up 40% as children worry about living costs

Some children have told Childline they are even considering whether they need to get a job to help out. Credit: NSPCC

The number of children turning to Childline in Northern Ireland has increased by 40% over the last three years, as volunteer numbers fall.

The service says children have raised a number of worries relating to money and jobs, which they say is likely to be driven by the financial pressures that many families are facing due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The charity anticipates that these concerns will continue in conversations that young people have with counsellors.

Some children have told Childline they are even considering whether they need to get a job to help out.

From April 2021 to March 2022, Childline provided 1,242 counselling sessions compared to 889 from the same period in 2018/19.

However, the charity is seeing a drop in volunteer numbers across Northern Ireland.

Between April and November this year, the Belfast branch saw numbers fall from 66 to 54, while in Foyle numbers fell from 66 to 54 over the same period.

The number of children contacting Childline has increased across the board, but there has been a strong uplift in counselling sessions with under 11s, which have risen by 38% compared to three years ago.

One girl from Northern Ireland who contacted Childline said: “I am struggling with coping with the state of the world right now.

"People are starving and can’t afford to heat their homes - some are even losing their homes.

"I just don’t understand how governments don’t do more to help.

"I sometimes feel guilty for feeling bad because my problems are nothing compared to people who have nothing in this world.”

Childline Director Shaun Friel said: “Lots of different world issues have taken place this year which have impacted many children and young people and caused them to feel worried and concerned about their future.

“Now, given the cost of living crisis, money worries will sadly continue to be a key worry for children over the winter months and for some, this will be having a negative impact on their mental health and well-being."

The charity has lost nearly 250 volunteers across the UK since January, despite the increase in children needing the service.

Childline President and Founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: “Every Christmas we are incredibly grateful to our staff and volunteers who support children for whom this can be a very tough time.

“This Christmas will unfortunately be a particularly hard year for many families given the financial struggles the country is currently facing.

“At Childline, our counsellors know that this is already having an impact on children, many are aware of the pressures their families are experiencing, and they are anxious about the impact this will have.

“Many of these children are worried about sharing their concerns with their own families as they fear that this would put them under even more stress.

“Therefore, it is so important that Childline counsellors are here for children throughout Christmas and New Year so those young people can talk about their worries and get the support they need.”

Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on

Childline also has a huge online community where children can get support from their peers on message boards and use expert resources to help them through any issue they are concerned about.

If adults are worried about children they can get advice from NSPCC practitioners on 0808 800 5000 or

Children can also visit Childline’s Calm Zone which been a great source of support during the pandemic.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.