LIKE THE Prince’s Trust which continues to change the lives of young people for the better, the same is also true of ChildLine thanks to the unwavering commitment of its founder Dame Esther Rantzen who is helping to recruit new volunteer counsellors in Leeds.
A legacy of her acclaimed consumer affairs programme That’s Life, who can forget the haunting television advertisement in 1986 depicting an abused child walking along a dark, rain-swept street in the search of a telephone box in which to call for assistance?
Without an individual on the end of the line, such cries for help would have gone unanswered with truly unthinkable consequences.
In August, Esther Rantzen spoke for the first time about the abuse she experienced at the hands of a close family friend when she was younger.
Despite the pain this caused, she said it did not motivate her to start the charity. Instead, she had read a report about a toddler who had been murdered by those that had been entrusted with her care.
It was that death, and ‘so many others over the years that I just felt it was so heartbreaking, we must try and find those children before it’s too late,’ she said.
Rantzen founded Childline to help children in danger or distress after hosting a one-off programme, Childwatch, in which she asked viewers to open up about abusive childhoods.
The BBC’s switchboards were flooded with calls after the show was broadcast; many of them from children.
In the past year, ChildLine has helped more than 7,000 young people in Leeds – testament to both the esteem in which the charity is held and the enduring importance of its work.