A leading children’s charity has pleaded for people in Aberdeen to volunteer as counsellors.
Since the charity began operating its Aberdeen base in 2004, it has helped more than 165,000 young people with issues such as mental health, family and relationships, and bullying.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, counsellors were given key worker status so they could continue performing their vital roles. However, as some have had to shield or isolate, others have had to increase their workload.
Counsellor Murray Rattray was one of those who took on extra shifts – and is now urging others to get involved.
He said: “I started volunteering because I was looking to give something back. A colleague, who also volunteers at Childline, suggested attending an information meeting, so I went along and within a few weeks I had started my counselling training.
“Being a counsellor has given me lots of transferable skills, and it’s really made me consider situations I find myself in. A lot of what you’re taught through the training is about listening and ensuring that you are understanding what the children are speaking to you about.”
Murray added: “There are ways in which the role is challenging, but the fact that you’re there and can be a listening ear to children when they have any worries is a great feeling. It’s good knowing that you may have helped them through something they’re struggling with.
“When we went into lockdown in March, I continued to volunteer in the base as I wanted to continue doing something positive. The staff made sure that the base was a safe place to be in, with enhanced cleaning, social distancing and other safety measures in place.
“Childline is an amazing organisation, and I feel really privileged to be part of it.
“For anyone who may be thinking of volunteering, I’d say go for it! It’s a really rewarding experience, and volunteers are a huge part of making sure that the service continues.”
Kerri Stewart, volunteer co-ordinator, said: “Volunteering with Childline is a great way to learn some new skills whilst helping children when they are in need. We’re really proud of the service we run in Aberdeen, and we would like to continue to be able to provide it for years to come.
“We provide full training, so it doesn’t matter what your background is, as we will equip you with all the skills needed to be a Childline counsellor, whilst our supervisors will be guiding you through contacts with children.
“The service may have changed in a number of ways this year, but we’ve overcome all the challenges and are continuing to be there for children.
“If you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to be a Childline volunteer, I’d encourage you to sign up for a volunteer information meeting – these are being done online at the moment, so there is no need to come into the base.”
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