LEEDS writer Kay Mellor OBE and Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye joined Dame Esther Rantzen at a special fundraising lunch for her Childline service in Leeds.
Guests heard how over the last few years Childline, which costs around £30,000 a day to run, has seen an increase in young people contacting them about mental
and emotional health and wellbeing issues, accounting for nearly two fifths of all counselling sessions.
The majority of counselling sessions are now delivered online, with children and teenagers preferring to communicate via 1-2-1 chat, which takes longer and is more costly.
Coun Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council's executive board member for children and families was also at the fundraising lunch.
Coun Mulherin, said: "Childline is an important institution, and the work it does provides crucial support to children and families.
"I am delighted to be joining such committed supporters at this event to raise the profile of the work Childline does from its Leeds office, which is their national centre for online counselling and support.
"As a Child Friendly City, we are delighted to have such dedicated partners based in our city working to protect and support children nationwide.”
Dame Esther Rantzen, said “Every day hundreds of children talk to Childline about their worries.
"Unfortunately we can currently answer only three out of four contacts to Childline.
"That’s why we are so grateful to Kay, Gaynor, Coun Mulherin and Leeds City Council for supporting our fundraising call so that we can be there for even more children when they
have no-one or nowhere to turn.”
Kay Mellor said “It’s clear to me that Childline is as vital today as it was when it was launched back in 1986.
"It was sad to hear that the key reasons for children contacting Childline at the very start - such as sexual abuse, bullying, and mental health issues - are even more prevalent today.
"The thing that’s really positive though is seeing how online technology has transformed the support that counsellors can offer to children who have nowhere else to turn.
"It’s wonderful that Childline has been able to respond and offer their life-saving support for children online.
"I would urge everyone and anyone to get behind this important service - just £4 could save a child’s life”
The Childline base in Leeds marked its 21 st anniversary in 2018 and since October 1997 volunteers and staff in Leeds have provided 224,415 counselling sessions to children and
young people in need from across the UK.
In 2011 the Leeds Childline base in St John’s Offices on Albion Street was converted into one of two centres solely dedicated to online counselling sessions for children.
It means specially trained counsellors in Leeds only offer confidential advice either via email or live chat messages.
Since switching to online only counselling, the Leeds base has been contacted 52,134 times by young people.
In 2018/19 the base provided 8,581 counselling sessions on subjects including friendship issues, self-harm, suicide and sexual abuse.