At the start of the year, Kidsline merged with Barnardos 0800 What’s Up. This means that there is now just one national children’s helpline, providing an essential service to children and young people who need a safe place to talk about anything. “We know that child and youth mental health is not thriving as it should be. The impacts of COVID-19 are deepening the country’s youth mental health crisis, and a national children’s helpline is a key way to help ensure every child has someone there to listen, to get alongside them, and help them in the tough times. Our trained specialist child counsellors are pleased to be welcoming Kidsline callers,” says Barnardos Chief Executive Mike Munnelly. One of the motivators for the merger was the growing popularity of webchat among children and young people (see below), a service Kidsline has not been able to provide.
Children and young people calling Kidsline will now also have the option, always available to 0800 What’s Up users, of talking to the same trained counsellor, building up a trusting therapeutic relationship. Denise Cosgrove, Presbyterian Support Northern Chief Executive (the organisation that previously ran Kidsline), says: “The move means Kidsline callers will have more options to engage and ultimately it will help more children. We know that our callers will find the support they need from 0800 What’s Up counsellors.” It’s thanks to the ongoing support of valued partner Milford Foundation that 0800 What’s Up, and now Kidsline callers and chatters, have somewhere to turn to for support in these uncertain times. Thank you for keeping the lines of communication open.