JUST as the NSPCC are launching a nationwide appeal for volunteers an Ayton mum has been praised for her work with ChildLine.
ChildLine is to roll out an ambitious new service that will visit every primary school in Scotland by 2016, to help children to understand abuse and how they can stay safe.
Using assemblies and workshops, the ChildLine Schools Service is designed to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and to let them know where they can get support if they need it.
Across south east Scotland the service now needs to recruit 26 volunteers to reach over 26,276 children across the region’s 141 primary schools in three years time and to continue that programme for every generation year on year.
And one woman who has wasted no time in doing her bit is Kirsty Essery who has already run a number of sessions in Borders schools.
It was a long held ambition to do something in the counselling field and researching things she could do with her spare time that led Kirsty to visit the Borders Volunteer Centre website where she first learned about the ChildLine Schools Service.
Now she’s a fully trained volunteer who’s making a real difference to children’s lives.
“Now that my daughter is 14 and I get more time to myself, I wanted to do something positive,” she told ‘The Berwickshire’.
“Something that would benefit others, as well as myself. That’s why the ChildLine Schools Service really struck a chord with me. “Children are our future and I feel very strongly that they need all the help and support they can get in this very adult-orientated world we live in.
“As a parent myself I know how important it is to listen to them. Some young people may be afraid to speak out if something is bothering them or something has happened to them.
“They are told to respect adults but it works both ways; we have to respect them as well.
In her short time volunteering with the service so far, Kirsty has visited five local primary schools to talk to children about different types of abuse and how they can get help if they need it.
“The confidence, freedom and smiles that I hear, see and feel from the children during the sessions is amazing,” she continued.
“It’s such a positive and rewarding experience.
“The last workshop I did was particularly enjoyable. The teacher was fantastic.
“She had the utmost respect for her pupils, and was so grateful for our help in enabling them to feel at ease talking openly and honestly about sensitive subjects, like sexual abuse.”
Kirsty teams up with another volunteer to deliver assemblies and workshops in schools. She also receives full training and support from an Area Coordinator, who organises schools visits and looks after the network of local volunteers.
Kirsty explained: “My Area Coordinator, Tony, is such a great source of support. He always has my best interests at heart, works at my pace, is very encouraging and is so enthusiastic about the service we are providing.”
Volunteering has also helped Kirsty to grow in confidence.
She added: “To anyone considering volunteering with the ChildLine Schools Service, I’d say go for it!
“When I first started I didn’t have that much confidence. The thought of standing up in a room full of people really scared me but knowing you’re making a difference and seeing the children open up is a big boost.
“It is hugely beneficial, not only to the children, but to you as an individual, and our society as a whole.
“It’s a very enjoyable experience to be involved with and I’m proud to say I’m a part of it.
“To get young people taking about issues that some adults often skirt around is important.
“I get a real sense of fulfillment from my role.”
Benjamin Napier, ChildLine Schools Service manager for Scotland added: “Volunteers are key to the new service so it is vital that local people come forward to help us protect future generations.”
For more information about volunteering for the Schools Service in Scotland visit www.nspcc.org.uk/schoolsservice.