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20 Years, 20 Voices: Childline UK


Child Helpline International has now existed for 20 years! To celebrate this momentous achievement, we invited some 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.


Childline is the UK’s free to contact, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week helpline for children and young people under 19. We can be contacted by phone, by 1-2-1 chat and by email, and host a lot of information and tools on our website We were founded by TV Presenter and Journalist Dame Esther Rantzen and have been supporting children for over 35 years. We are a service of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which was founded 138 years ago in 1884.

Our Childline service gives children and young people a voice, often when no one else is listening. Whatever problems or dangers they face, we give them somewhere to turn to for support when they need it.

We have helped millions of children and young people throughout our history, and continue to support around 200,000 each year.

Our service is primarily delivered by over 1,300 volunteers, across 12 physical bases throughout the UK and 1 virtual base, and they are supported by our staff team of child protection and mental health professionals.

Childline and the NSPCC has always played a significant role in speaking with the voice of children and young people, taking what we hear on the helpline and advocating on behalf of children and young people, influencing governments locally, nationally and globally. Most notably, we played an important role in the ground-breaking Children Act in 1989 and more recently in the pioneering Online Safety Act in the UK.

Childline UK has been involved with Child Helpline International right from the start, 20 years ago, and it has always been a strong relationship of mutual learning and support. I first became involved when I hosted a regional European conference in London on behalf of Childline UK/NSPCC and then became our representative to Child Helpline International and became more and more involved, most recently at the International Consultation in Stockholm.

Child Helpline International’s staff and members form a unique team, all with a shared vision to make the world a better place for children and young people, with shared challenges, and a shared powerful, global force when we all come together.

It’s an honour to be a part of Child Helpline International and to play my small part in what is an impactful and vital organization – Happy 20th Birthday and here’s to the next 20 years!


Alex Gray
Service Head,
Childline UK

Voices of Children and Young People

“My parents put a lot of pressure on me to revise right after I returned from the hospital. And they tell me I might never get a decent job if I keep having these crises, as if I were to blame for them. I feel like anxiety is controlling my life and that I will never achieve my dreams because of my mental health issues. The only thing keeping me going is my friends and Childline.

– Girl, age not disclosed

*All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person.
Quotes are created from real Childline service users but are not necessarily direct quotes from the child or young person.

With an increase in young people experiencing mental health issues and mental health services in the UK under increased pressure, with increased waiting times and increased thresholds for treatment, young people are reaching out to Childline for support, often in crisis, and often feeling like there is nowhere else to turn.

We listen, we identify the need and we tailor our response, to ensure the young person feels supported and safeguarded. Our counsellors regularly hear that we are a lifeline for the young people who would harm themselves if we weren’t there, ready to listen and support.