Almost one third of Northern Ireland callers to NSPCC helpline have child protection concerns for six months before making call.
The NSPCC has today revealed that approximately a third (32 per cent) of Northern Ireland callers to its Helpline last year, whose contact resulted in a referral to police or children’s services, waited more than six months to speak out. A further 21 per cent delayed seeking help by between one and six months.
Launching its first nation-specific ‘Helpline Highlight’, the children’s charity emphasised the service’s role in providing the Northern Ireland public with an independent source of help and advice, where there are concerns about the welfare of children.
Margaret Gallagher, local campaigns coordinator for the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, said that delays in reporting concerns may contribute to the undue distress and suffering of a child experiencing abuse or neglect:
“We understand that it’s incredibly difficult to pick up the phone, and we are really grateful to those people who do take action when they have concerns. People clearly have the desire to act but are unsure how or when to do it. What we would emphasise is that trained professionals assess the information given and either give advice and support to the caller or make a referral to children’s services or police if required. You can’t be expected to know for certain and that’s where the NSPCC can help.
“Many of the children whom adults contact us about are not known to existing services. Most of the referrals made by the helpline concerned neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse, and largely originate from adults who might otherwise contact no other agency.”
The majority of contacts leading to referrals came from members of the public, not from family members or professionals explained Margaret Gallagher. She said: “While many of the contacts to the helpline simply result in our counsellors providing child protection advice and guidance to parents, relatives, friends and members of the public… the key message we want to send is ‘Don’t Wait Until You’re Certain’.”
Welcoming the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSPCC and the HSCB, which aims to establish a seamless interface with Gateway services, Neil Anderson, head of NSPCC services in Northern Ireland added:
“The important thing for everyone to know is that this an around-the-clock service where adults can report, or seek advice on, child protection concerns. We will continue to work with colleagues in the statutory and voluntary sectors, and the general public in Northern Ireland, to raise awareness of the helpline.”
The NSPCC Helpline is a telephone and online service for adults who are concerned about the welfare of a child or young person. It provides adults with advice, guidance and support, and can take action on their behalf if they have concerns about a child who is either being abused or is at risk of abuse.
Other sources of help include Gateway Services in each Health and Social Care trust:
Belfast Trust: 028 9050 7000
South Eastern Trust: 0300 1000 300
Northern Trust: 0300 1234 333
Southern Trust: 0800 7837 745
Western Trust: 028 71314090
Police Service of Northern Ireland:
Non-emergency and general enquiries telephone number – 0845 600 8000
In an emergency dial 999.
About the NSPCC:
The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity specialising in child protection. Our vision is to end cruelty to children in the UK and we make a difference for all children by standing up for their rights, listening to them, helping them when they need us and by making them safe.
The NSPCC runs projects and services across the United Kingdom and Channel Islands to help vulnerable children. We also provide ChildLine, the UK’s free, confidential 24-hour helpline and online service for children and young people and a helpline for adults who are worried about a child or want advice.
If you have concerns about a child or young person, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or visit: www.nspcc.org.uk