App To Help Vulnerable Children

Children in need of help will be able to get counselling on their smartphones through a new app launched by Childline.

The app will allow youngsters to chat directly with a counsellor, as well as get advice on issues such as bullying. It also includes a private ''locker'' area for young people to record their personal thoughts.

Childline said that the app, available to youngsters in the UK and Channel Islands, is the first of its kind.

The idea came from four teenagers who were initially tasked in a school lesson with looking at ways technology can benefit the community.

The ''For Me'' app can be downloaded on to a mobile phone, and has been created to be discreet - meaning that if someone sees the phone they will not know the app is a Childline service.

When Childline was first launched 30 years ago, contact was generally over the phone, with many calls made from telephone boxes, it said.

Now, seven in 10 (71%) counselling sessions are done over email or 1-2-1 chat - otherwise known as instant messaging - and the majority of the remaining sessions are conducted via a youngster calling on their mobile phone.

Laura Hindle, one of the team who invented the app, said she hoped it would make a difference to young people who are struggling.

''Watching the idea evolve into a reality has been quite a journey and it's great to see the finished product ready to help young people,'' she said. ''Let's hope the app goes from strength to strength by offering invaluable support in such an accessible format.''

John Cameron, Head of Childline Services at the NSPCC said: ''Launching the 'For Me' app shows how we're continuing to capitalise on new technology to give children and young people the easiest possible access to Childline's free and confidential advice and support. Its development will enable our younger generation to tap directly into Childline's expanding range of services through their mobile phone whenever and wherever they need our help.''

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