Aberdeen’s Childline service has launched an urgent appeal for new counsellors to help children when they need it most.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the number of volunteers the NSPCC-run organisation can call upon.
And it now needs 50 new volunteers to come forward to keep it running and ensure its vital support remains available.
About 100 people are currently giving their time at the city centre base to be there for children who need help.
So important are they, that when the country went into lockdown, Childline staff and volunteers were given key worker status.
Murray Rattray has been a counsellor for the past year and recently increased the number of hours he works.
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.
“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.”
Mr Rattray is employed by CNR International, which selected NSPCC Scotland as its charity partner for 2019.
The company raised enough money for Childline Aberdeen to recruit and train 16 new volunteers through fundraising events such as the Kiltwalk and Nippy Dipper.
“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,” Mr Rattray added.
“It’s good knowing you may have helped them through something they’re struggling with.”
“Childline is an amazing organisation and I feel really privileged to be part of it.”
Last year, the service celebrated 15 years in Aberdeen.
Since they opened in 2004, counsellors have answered calls and messages from almost 165,000 young people.
With some volunteers shielding or isolating during lockdown, other counsellors had to step up and commit to doing multiple shifts per week.
The base now urgently needs more volunteers to continue helping children in the north-east.
To find out more about volunteering with Childline Aberdeen and to sign up for an upcoming volunteer information meeting, visit join-us.nspcc.org.uk.