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20 years, 20 voices: Azerbaijan Child Helpline

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2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of Child Helpline International. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have invited 20 of our members – from all around the world, founding members and members who have recently joined us – to share their stories in a special series that will run between now and World Children’s Day on 20 November 2023.

AZERBAIJAN CHILD HELPLINE

The Azerbaijan Child Helpline was set up by the Reliable Future non-governmental organization and its partners in 2010. Since then, it has grown to become a strong voice for children and a dedicated advocate and supporter of children’s issues in Azerbaijan.

Reliable Future is a non-profit, charitable, politically non-aligned NGO founded in 1998 by young people from different universities in Azerbaijan, and officially registered in 1999. Since its establishment, Reliable Future, by uniting the most active youth of Azerbaijan, is making an effort in a wide range of spheres: building up democratic, safe, open and healthy civil society; helping aged, disabled people, children, refugees, etc.; organizing leisure time for children and young people; and developing culture, art and education.

Along with coordinating activities of more than 40 organizations, Reliable Future Youth Organization is the head of the secretariat of the Azerbaijan NGO Alliance for Children’s Rights , which implements various projects and social activities in Baku and elsewhere in Azerbaijan to ensure better protection of children’s rights and their advocation and propagation throughout the country. The organization implements different training courses and educational programmes on the basis of combined participation by local communities, supports the roles of women, children and young people within communities, and provides social, psychological and legal services to child victims of violence.

In 2005, 2011 and more recently in 2020, Reliable Future and its partners within the NGO Alliance for Children’s Rights, with support from the UN, developed and submitted the Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Azerbaijan. The report was aimed at shedding light on the situation of children in the country, revealing and exposing the problems, gaps, and barriers on the way to achieving the goals and objectives of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Millennium development goals, and World Fit for Children.

In 2010, Reliable Future – in partnership and with financial support from Azercell Telecom and UNICEF Azerbaijan, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education,  the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s of Affairs – has served children and families in need of care through the “Azerbaijan Child Helpline” service. The target audience of the service is children under the age of 18 who are victims of various kinds of violence (physical, psychological, sexual, etc.) and their families.

The child helpline has received over 68,000 calls from children and concerned adults, and provided legal and psychological counselling on individual and group basis directly and via its counterparts. Azerbaijan Child Helpline provides a 24/7 service using the short number 116111; we also have 4 mobile numbers, email addresses, Instagram, Facebook, as well as a mobile application. Phone calls are always relevant, but the number of contacts via social networks has increased. Our “Azerbaijan Child Helpline” app allows children not only to ask for help but also provides them with  motivating stories and useful information.

Although the child helpline covers the need for psychological and emotional support and some legal advice needs, for the most part children and young people in Azerbaijan are in need of urgent services and support related to cases of attempted suicide, school dropouts, violation of rights, abuse, and violence against children and women.

Our purpose

  • The main purpose of Azerbaijan Child Helpline is to provide social, psychological and legal assistance to children who have faced problems and violence.
  • Combatting domestic violence and promoting comprehensive victim support through the development and strengthening of effective psychological, emotional and social support.
  • Providing direct services to victims of violence to help in their recovery and provide assistance respectively through the health system, social services and criminal justice process by referring them to community-based legal clinics, rehabilitation centers, shelters, and NGOs that provide legal counselling and representation support.

Our vision

  • In accordance with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the protection of the best interests and rights of children who contact the children helpline.
  • Protection of women and their rights, providing them emergency assistance and security in accordance with Azerbaijani legislation and international legal documents, instructions, guidelines.
  • Providing a safe environment for the healthy development and life of children and women.

Azerbaijan Child Helpline  has been an official member of Child Helpline International since 2013. The idea of creating and opening a child helpline service in Azerbaijan began to be realized after we attended a number of international conferences. We quickly switched to using the short number 116111, recognized by the European Telecommunications Association. We also adopted the experience of child helplines in other countries and expanded the scope of our services: a mobile application was created, a chat system was used through social networks for prompt and accessible communication with operators, and, if necessary, important cases requiring detailed investigation or monitoring began to conduct individual direct non-line rehabilitation with children and their families. Stable communication and cooperation with government agencies was built within the framework of the Multidisciplinary Group for quick response and problem solving.

Constant participation, communication, and long-term strong cooperation at the international level, especially during the period of Covid-19, have led to the cohesion of organizations, and the exchange of experience has yielded a fruitful result in the effective handling of calls. The international network of child helplines serves not only as a bridge between structures and the population; thanks to our activities and cooperation, we are a single force whose voice is heard all over the world.

We are pleased to be part of Child Helpline International and are confident that this cooperation will continue to produce positive results in the future, creating a solid and healthy ground for the development of children and youth around the world.

Kamala Ashumova
Executive Director,
Reliable Future

Voices of Children & Young People

“Maybe I could have dissuaded my friend taking her own life: I didn’t understand the signs she was giving me. Now, I’m also thinking about suicide …”

 

In April 2023 the mother of 14 year-old boy called us and asked us to help her son. She was crying, and was very worried about her child. The boy’s friend had committed suicide, which had come as a great shock to the boy. He was in a serious emotional state, and had begun thinking about suicide as well; he had a strong sense of guilt. about his friend’s death.

Help was initially provided to the boy by phone, but in order to provide more effective assistance the boy and his family were invited to the rehabilitation centre that works in conjunction with Reliable Future and the Azerbaijan Child Helpline. The boy and his family received rehabilitation with a psychologist and social worker for several months. The boy’s emotional condition has improved, and he is now assessed positively.