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Childline raises awareness for their 'Blue Week' campaign

Blue week is Childline’s annual week of raising awareness and this year the charity will be hosting presentations in local schools.

The charity has worked in Gibraltar for over 13 years and aims to ensure children have a safe place to talk about any issues.

“The main purpose is to reach out to the children and the schools are so cooperative with us,” said Chairwomen of Childline Annie Green.

“Our little team of volunteers will be going with us to primary schools, middle and the girl’s school to give a presentation about what Childline does and how we can be contacted.”

The presentations will be age specific, meaning that for teenagers the presentations will target social media and younger children the volunteers will just make them aware of the service.

Some 17 schools have signed up to participate in Blue Week and the public is encouraged to participate in the awareness campaign.

During this week, offices and businesses are encouraged to pick a day of the week to dress in blue and make a donation to Childline.

The charity also encourages the public to participate in the ‘#8008 challenge’ where individuals, groups, schools and businesses create an image of #8008 in as an imaginative way as possible.

As part of Blue Week a total of 6,040 novelties have been prepared by Childline and will be handed out at the schools.

The 15 presentations will be delivered by a combination of the Childline team and volunteers.

“We feel really privileged that we have such good will from the community and I can say quite confidentially now that we are extremely well established as this is now our 13th year in existence,” Mrs Green said.

“We have come a long way from when we were just a helpline and now our services have adapted and grown so much. All of this was in response to what we recognised was a need for young people in Gibraltar.”

“We do also receive calls from adults who are concerned about a child and need to have some guidance and advice.”

Last year Childline received 292 phone calls to their helpline service with 11 of these phone calls referred to external agencies.

The charity receive as many helpline contacts about boys as about girls and almost 60% of calls regarding boys were about the age group of 9 to 12 years.

Childline are not just a helpline service, they have a live chat (online) and whatsapp service.

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“We are endeavouring to be available to them in whichever way they wish to communicate these days,” said Mrs Green said.

The charity also runs the Appropriate Adults service which sees volunteers called out when a child is detained at the police station and needs a guardian present.

“Without a doubt there are children who do not have the same advantages that many other children have,” Mrs Green said.

She added that these children are looked after during the few hours detained in the police station.

The Appropriate Adults will attend the police station to ensure the child has an adult present at any time of the day and night.

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For Appropriate Adult call outs Childline was called three times more for boys than for girls, with 29% of calls concerning burglary.

Other call outs were for cases of young illegal immigrants, theft, property damage, drugs and breach of bail conditions.

Some 30% of calls to the helpline service concerned abuse with 40% concerning mental health.