02/Sep/2014 - Last News Update: 14:06

Swansea ChildLine: AM Julie James on closure worries

Category: Wales

Published: 1st Jul 2011 07:18:43

Plans to shut a ChildLine call centre in Swansea are an "ill-thought out cost-saving exercise," claims an AM.

The NSPCC is expected to announce later on Friday whether it will go ahead and close it to open a new office in Cardiff for online counselling only.

Swansea West AM Julie James believes existing services would suffer.

The NSPCC said any child anywhere in the UK would still be able to contact Childline confidentially, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Volunteers, staff and politicians claim a Swansea closure would result in a diminished service for vulnerable young people who rely on it.

Earlier this year the NSPCC, which runs the counselling service, announced changes that also included closing the bases at Edinburgh, Exeter and Leeds.

We're concerned that disadvantaged children won't be able to access this service online”

Others such as Cardiff will be expanded but overall around 400 volunteer counsellors would lose their jobs, about 130 of them in Swansea.

Labour AM Ms James said: "We're concerned that disadvantaged children won't be able to access this service online.

"We're also concerned that the internet is a very dangerous place for children anyway."

Keith Towler, the children's commissioner for Wales, said he had met the NSPCC team in London who run the service to seek reassurances any proposed changes would not affect vulnerable children.

ChildLine will continue to provide free, 24-seven confidential support to all children and young people whenever and however they need us”

"Whatever the outcome of [today's] decision, I will maintain regular contact with Childline to ensure children and young people from Wales can access, at all times, their service be it via phone, online chat or text."

UK government funding for the helpline services is being cut from £30m last year to nothing by 2016.

But ChildLine director Peter Liver has insisted the proposed changes had nothing to do with money.

In a statement the charity said: "ChildLine is transforming its counselling services to meet a growing demand for help from children, particularly those making contact online.

"ChildLine will continue to provide free, 24-seven confidential support to all children and young people whenever and however they need us.

"Our online services show a rapidly increasing number of children registering and utilising all of the services available.

"Recent marketing demonstrated the rate at which we can expect demand for our online services to grow, which is why we want to have dedicated online centres that are there solely to respond to this growing demand for online support."

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BBC News, 2011. Swansea ChildLine: AM Julie James on closure worries [Online] (Updated 1st Jul 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/166653/Swansea-ChildLine-AM-Julie-James-on-closure-worries [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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