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.
GERMANY: KINDER- UND JUGENDTELEFON
"NUMMER GEGEN KUMMER"
For over 40 years, the German helpline "Nummer gegen Kummer" has been offering support to children and young people of all ages. “Nummer gegen Kummer” wants to improve the living conditions and mental health of children and adolescents by providing qualified and comprehensive counselling. All services offered by "Nummer gegen Kummer" are open-topic and anonymous, available nationwide and free of charge.
Nummer gegen Kummer e.V. is the umbrella organization of non-governmental, non-profit organizations in Germany maintaining local centres of the nationwide Child Helpline and/or Parents Helpline. Currently, the helpline network is made up of 87 member organizations with about 3,800 trained volunteer counsellors offering helpline services on the local level. Key supporters of “Nummer gegen Kummer” are the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the European Union and the “Deutsche Telekom AG” as well as many others.
Nummer gegen Kummer (NgK) was founded in 1980 as a general helpline for children (“Kinder- und Jugendtelefon”). The now well established peer-project “youth counselling youths” (“Jugendliche beraten Jugendliche”) was added in 1994.
Mail-based online counselling (“E-mail-Beratung”) for children and adolescents is available since 2003 and the chat counselling service was launched in 2019. The Parents Helpline (“Elterntelefon”) is operational since 2001. Ukrainian families in Germany can call the Helpline Ukraine since 2022.
NgK is a founding member of Child Helpline International, as well as part of the European network Insafe and the Helpline within the German Safer Internet Centre providing a safe place to talk about negative online experiences.
In over 40 years of counselling, “Nummer gegen Kummer” has offered a safe place to talk for more than 5 million counselling sessions – 5 million times being there, listening and providing support. Demand for the Child Helpline in particular remains high. In 2022, more than 121,000 telephone counselling sessions were conducted with a broad range of topics. Children and young people needed support with psychosocial and health issues, questions around sexuality, but also problems within their families. In online counselling, more than 11,700 counselling sessions were conducted (via mail or chat). Among a generally wide range of issues addressed, addiction and self-harm were relevant topics in online counselling.
As a founding member of Child Helpline International, we are proud to have been a part of this global network from the start. Looking back on these past 20 years, highlights for us were the establishment of the European harmonized number for Child Helplines 116111 – and the celebration of its 10-year anniversary “Six digits worth remembering” in Brussels in 2016.
For us, being part of Child Helpline International is the opportunity to be connected and to work together with a global network of child helpline colleagues. For example, in 2019, when we were just establishing our Helpline chat service, we had the chance to learn from our European colleagues´ experiences during a meeting of child helplines in Vienna.
On May 17, we are dedicated to take part in International Child Helpline Day – aiming to let the world know about the help we offer and make sure that someone is there to answer the phone when a young person needs someone to listen – and maybe we are the one trusted adult it often takes to change direction for the better.
We are especially proud of and amazed by our helpline volunteers, this colourful and powerful group of people, who dedicate their time and heart to support children, young people, and parents. Even in the challenging times of the pandemic, they were committed to help others and willing to work extra shifts to ensure that young people were not alone in situations of crisis!
Nummer gegen Kummer e.V.
Voices of Children and Young People
“… As a child, I grew up with a violent alcoholic, my mother. Whenever the situation was particularly bad, I called the helpline. And even though I used to reject any kind of offer for further support, every single conversation with the helpline counsellors emotionally rescued me. (…) Unfortunately, when I was a child, no one has ever intervened or urged to carry me out of the apartment and bring me to a safe place. However, with the support of the helpline counsellors, I managed to leave my parents’ apartment when I was only 16 years old and have battled my way ever since. There was always this reassuring feeling that there is someone who unconditionally listens, who believes and does not judge me but presents actual offers and ways of help. That is why I want to say thank you to all the supporters and all the counsellors from the bottom of my heart. You are doing a great and important job. I am so glad, that this helpline exists. Thank you!”