THE NSPCC is desperately urging York residents to volunteer following a stark rise in children contacting childline.

The charity said it has seen an increase in the number of counselling sessions about mental and emotional health with children aged 11 and under since lockdown measures were first introduced– with the monthly average rising by 16 per cent.

And a spokesman for the charity said its amount of volunteers was down by 40 per cent due to the coronavirus - with staff off work due to self-isolation.

The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.

Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and in response to these latest worrying figures and with COVID restrictions continuing, the service is urgently appealing to those who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer, so Childline can be here for children when they need us the most.

One girl aged 16 who contacted Childline said: “I feel really sad and lonely. I need to talk to someone because I don’t really have anyone right now. I am really struggling with the whole isolation thing. Most days I find myself just lost in my own thoughts and feeling numb. I am classed as a vulnerable person, so my isolation lasts for 12 weeks, which seems like a lifetime.”

Childline Founder and President, Dame Esther Rantzen said: “With schools now shut again and children spending more time behind closed doors, it is absolutely imperative that Childline is there for them. Many young people, especially those in unsafe homes, are feeling desperately anxious and depressed.

" School can be the only safe haven they know, and without that support, they feel entirely alone. For them, Childline is literally a life-line. But the service urgently needs more volunteers to listen to and support children, and more funds to pay for their calls and on-line contacts, and for that we depend upon the generosity and compassion of the public. It is the NSPCC’s mission to make 2021 a better year for children, and with your help, we can make this dream a reality.”

"Neil Homer, who is 53 years old and works in telecoms has volunteered for Childline since 2009. He said: “I’ve heard first-hand the devastating impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health and well-being. “As children’s lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic, it is vital that I and my fellow volunteer counsellors continue to be here to listen to children’s worries and support them. However, we currently can’t answer every child so, if you can, please sign up and volunteer for Childline and help us reach every child who needs our support.”

Children who need help should also use the organisations Calm Zone, available at The NSPCC has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery who provided crucial funding of £1,000,000 to Childline last year, the equivalent of running the service for an entire month.