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What’s Up clocks up millionth call

What’s Up clocks up millionth call

What’s Up, the free nationwide telephone counselling service for five to 18 year olds, registered its millionth call today.

More than 432,000 of those calls, registered since the free phone was launched in September 2001, were answered by What’s Up’s professional, paid and trained counsellors.

“The rest would have struck the queue or the busy signal,” says What’s Up Executive Director, Grant Taylor, “with counsellors already on the lines to other children and young people.”

So who is calling and why?

“The confidential and anonymous nature of the free phone means we cannot identify and count individual callers,” says Grant. “But we estimate more than 22,000 individuals call each year, many of them several times. We know almost two-thirds of those callers are girls. And the largest age group to call are 12 to 13 year olds.”

What’s Up has plenty of details on the nature of the calls. “More than 40 per cent of callers who talked with counsellors are concerned about relationships with peers (top of the list), family and partners,” says Grant. Bullying is the second most common reason for calling.

“What’s Up was set up as an early intervention service,” says Grant, “to help children and young people develop the skills to deal with ‘everyday’ issues. Our counsellors guide the callers to learn how to solve their problems – helping them develop the skills to face other issues as well, now and in the future. We want callers to be able to nip problems in the bud, rather than someone having to pick up the pieces later on.”

Grant isn’t phased by the high numbers of young people calling the free phone.

“Very few calls are from children or young people in crisis,” says Grant, “and there are strict guidelines to ensure that such calls are dealt with appropriately and safely by an appropriate agency.

“Most of What’s Up’s calls are about issues facing many young people and children in today’s environment.

The willingness of thousands of young people to call What’s Up about these issues is both a reflection of modern times, and the confidence of young people about using the telephone as a counselling medium, but more importantly is a reflection of the high level of trust and confidence young people have in the service.”

“Children and young people do not always want to confide in their parents on these issues, at least at first,” says Grant. “In many ways, What’s Up has taken on the role of a trusted friend in the community. What’s Up is making an important contribution to the well-being of our young population,.” says Grant.

Young people aged from five to 18 years can call What’s Up on 0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 8787) any day between noon and midnight. The free phone line is open for both land-line and mobile telephones.

What’s Up is a member of Child Helpline International and is benchmarked with the performance and standards of other member helplines.

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