Bethnal Green and Bow MP, Rushanara Ali, calls for more money for children’s charity NSPCC
Rushanara Ali was one of 131 MPs to sign a letter from the charity’s CEO, Peter Wanless, calling on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to increase the NSPCC’s funding.
Childline is a 24-hour confidential helpline for children who feel at risk, but children are increasingly ringing with complex mental health needs which counsellors aren’t equipped to deal with.
In the letter, Mr Wanless said: “The NSPCC urgently needs to increase both the number of available volunteers and to improve and expand the training that they receive.
“This will ensure that childline is equipped to support the more complex mental health needs children are coming to the service with. It surely deserves government support and investment.”
Last year, a third of calls to childline were about mental health, but counsellors could only respond to three quarters of them.
The service has also seen a 150 per cent increase in the number of calls from suicidal children since 2010/11. Some children have told counsellors that they are being directed to childline when other services, which only operate in normal working hours, aren’t open.
Mr Wanless urged the government to allocate a proportion of the £300 million which had been pledged in green paper reforms to childline, to make sure it’s equipped to meet growing demand.
The green paper announced there would be new mental health support teams which would increase the care available for pupils, including interventions. These teams would work alongside existing services, like school-based counselling.
He said: “When a child is brave enough to reach out it is absolutely vital that the immediate response and support is there for them.”
A government spokeswoman said: “Our plans will transform mental health services for children and young people, including the first ever waiting time standards for those with the most serious problems.
“This will be supported by a new workforce – larger than the entire current workforce - and backed by £300m of additional funding that will also provide significant additional support for all schools.”
Read the article in the East London Advertiser here.