THE YORKSHIRE Evening Post is privileged to publish a column today by Dame Esther Rantzen to mark the tireless and ceaseless work undertaken by her Childline charity since it opened in Leeds 20 years ago.
Television’s original consumer champion thanks to the hugely popular series That’s Life, it was only after the groundbreaking programme explored the issue of child cruelty in 1986 following the harrowing death of four-year-old Kimberley Carlile, starved and beaten to death by her father, that the shocking scale of abuse became clear.
Then children suffered in silence. Yet, when a pioneering helpline opened in response to the tragedy, it was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of calls from distressed youngsters. And, thanks to Childline and also the NSPCC, not only were these cries of help heard, but today’s children in need have the sympathetic support denied to others so long.
Since 1986, Childline’s specially trained staff and volunteer counsellors have been there for children and young people time and again -they have answered more than 4.5 million calls. We take it for granted now but it’s truly remarkable thatchildren living anywhere in the UK can access a range of confidential counselling services 24 hours a day, every day.
For this, the country, and abuse victims in particular, will always be in Dame Esther’s debt.