Note from CMHQ – This month my chosen charity is the NSPCC – below is an introduction to the charity. This month do help us spread the word on their fantastic work and donate a few pounds on top of your ticket price if you can spare it. We’ll be publishing a blog each week during the month of April all about some of the fantastic work of the NSPCC.
The NSPCC stands for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands.
Thanks to voluntary donations, which make up almost 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening.
So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.
We’re the only UK children’s charity with statutory powers and that means we can take action to safeguard children at risk of abuse.
If a law needs to change, or if more needs to be done to protect children, we demand it. The fact we’re independent – relying on the public to fund our work – means we can push for change when others can’t.
Each of us has a responsibility to keep childhood free from abuse and we must do everything possible to prevent it from happening.
The free NSPCC helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on 0808 800 5000 or visiting www.nspcc.org.uk.
We also offer better support for new parents and their babies through good quality antenatal education. Through services such as Pregnancy in Mind and Coping with Crying, we’re teaching new mums and dads how to care for and bond with their babies.
Meanwhile the internet has brought considerable benefits to children and young people; however it has also brought dangers. We’ve partnered with O2 to keep children safe online with advice, tools and support.
Our Childline service provides a safe confidential place for children with no-one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.
Mandy called Childline when the service first started. This is a true story, but names and identifying details have been changed.
“My parents married when my mum was 16 and pregnant with me. Their relationship wasn’t great, and when I was there they decided to put me into care.
My aunt was married and had a baby on the way, so her and her husband agreed they would look after me. It was a ready-made family for them.
Things were good for a few years, but then I started to be treated differently than the other children. People either didn’t notice or didn’t criticise, as they saw it that my aunt and uncle had done a good thing by taking me on.
My uncle started to sexually abuse me when I was 11. I couldn’t really process it properly – he told that was what happened in families and it was how people learnt about sex.
It was only when I started to spend more time at friend’s houses that I realised the way their fathers or father figures acted with them was different. I didn’t want to ask them outright if the same was happening to them, so I asked questions like ‘who helps you in the bath’. When they said no-one I started to realise it didn’t happen to everyone.
Childline had recently launched and we’d had talks about it in school. My friends used to go into phone boxes and make prank calls.
I always felt bad about it, but then, about a year after the abuse started, they made me do it.
They were outside the phone box and couldn’t hear me and I didn’t know if I was going to make up a story or just chicken out and hang up.
But I found myself suddenly pouring my heart out about everything that had happened to me. It was a relief to be able to talk to someone about it.
My uncle had always told me that no-one would believe me if I said anything so hearing that the counsellor believed me was such a big relief. I realised I had done nothing wrong and it wasn’t my fault.
I told her I wasn’t ready to tell anyone I knew yet, and that I just wanted to unload. She said if I did ever feel ready then Childline would support me in that. It was such a relief.
I left home at 17 and a couple of years later I found out he had abused another family member. Together, we went to the police and he was sentenced to four years in jail.
Childline gave me an ear when no-one else could. They were there for me when I was a scared and confused young girl.
Without them I would have bottled it all up, but speaking to them allowed me to rebuild my strength until I was ready to talk. If Childline hadn’t been there I don’t know who I would have spoken to.”
For more information on the NSPCC, to donate or to volunteer go to www.nspcc.org.uk