South Wales teenager going the extra mile to answer NSPCC Cymru’s appeal for more Childline volunteers
Here at the Child of Wales Awards, we are constantly amazed at the wonderful spirit of compassion and selflessness that so many young people from across the country show towards others.
It’s particularly great to hear the story of one teenager from South Wales who is determined to help one of our sponsored charities – NSPCC Cymru – by becoming a volunteer counsellor for Childline when she turns 16, and is on a fundraising mission to cover the cost of her own volunteer training.
Liz Brennan, 15, has set herself a challenge to run, walk and cycle 870 miles - the length of the Wales coast path - to raise £1,600, which is enough to fund the training of a Childline counsellor.
“Lockdown has been a strange one,” says Liz. “For me personally school work has been overwhelming and the uncertainty surrounding GCSE results this summer has been very stressful.
“My family have been really supportive and we have spent lots of time together at home and we started to go walking and cycling, which made those stressful moments less of a nightmare.
“It’s made me realise that this isn't the case for many children and young people, which is why I want to support the work of the NSPCC so they can still be there for children.
“I know that the charity needs more volunteers to be able to do that, which is why I have set myself the fundraising challenge, and why I am determined to become a Childline counsellor next year so that I can be there to help others.”
Liz’s plans to apply to be a Childline counsellor were cemented having seen the NSPCC’s recent appeal for Childline volunteers in North Wales, which it made after active volunteer numbers fell significantly because many existing counsellors had to shield during the COVID-19 crisis.
Starting her challenge on Tuesday 1 September, Liz hopes to complete the distance in four
months, managing her runs, walks, and bike rides around her GCSE school work as she returns to the classroom for the start of the new academic year.
Liz from Nantgarw has already been out on some training sessions having swapped her pre-lockdown fitness classes at the gym for cycling.
She says: “To complete the challenge by Christmas I’ll have to average around eight miles every single day over four months. It’s quite a lot as I’ll be having to put the miles in before or after school.
“I saw Rhys Jenkins break the world record for covering the same distance and whilst I’m not going to be doing it that fast, I’m up for giving the distance a go and he has given me some inspiration to do that.”
Liz who attends Bishop of Llandaff School has volunteered with the charity’s fundraising team since the age of eight, supporting coffee mornings, carol concerts, bucket collections, and more recently the 2.6 Challenge.
The charity relies on public donations for 90% of its income, which is why fundraising is so important. It costs the charity £1,600 to train a volunteer counsellor for Childline and £4 to answer a child's call to Childline.
Two of the NSPCC’s twelve Childline bases across the UK are located in Wales, in Prestatyn and Cardiff, providing support to worried children and young people. Childline counsellors are ready to listen to those who contact the service, giving them a safe space to talk about anything that is happening to them or causing them to worry.
Liz added: “Speaking to my friends, lockdown has been different for all of us and we look at the same situation differently – some of us have struggled and others have enjoyed being at home.
“I want to help make sure that Childline can answer every contact it has from a child or young person because I know that home isn’t a safe space for everyone.”
Debs Davis, Childline Service Manager for Wales, says: “We hear from children and young people every day who need someone to listen to them without judgment.
“It can be about anything, from mental-health and family and relationship concerns, to bullying, abuse, or suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“We are all heartened by the challenge Liz has set herself, raising funds that will help us be there for children and young people.
“It’s wonderful that she is so keen to become a volunteer with Childline because without people volunteering their time to support our charity, and without public donations, we simply couldn’t do what we do.”
The charity is appealing for English and Welsh speaking volunteers at its base in Prestatyn. Successful applicants are asked to give a minimum 4.25 hours per week as a counsellor, and receive a comprehensive training package.
More information is available on the charity’s website. Anyone interested in finding out more about what the role entails and how to apply can contact the staff team on 01745 772 101 or via firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow Liz’s progress with her challenge or to make a donation visit her JustGiving page.
Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit nspcc.org.uk for advice. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 between 9am or midnight or visit childline.org.uk for free 365 days a year.