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Esther appeals for volunteers to run her phone lines—till 1am!

PUBLISHED: 00:01 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 05 October 2010

TV’s ESTER Rantzen is appealing for volunteers willing to man her ChildLine phone lines—till 1am. The veteran TV presenter launches the appeal at the call centre in East London later today (Thursday) with Mamma Mia musical’s Joanna Munro, her old colleague from the BBC consumer programme That's Life! in the 1970s and 80s

By Mike Brooke

ESTHER Rantzen is appealing for volunteers willing to man her phone lines—till 1am.

The veteran TV presenter launches the appeal at the ChildLine call centre in East London later today (Thursday) with Mamma Mia musical’s Joanna Munro, her old colleague from the BBC consumer programme That's Life! in the 1970s and 80s.

Meanwhile, bookies this week have presented Rantzen with £100,000 towards the charity she set up 22 years ago.

Ladbroke’s bosses visited the call centre in Spitalfields on Monday to hand over a cheque to keep the 24-hour helpline going.

The money was raised by the company’s 2,500 betting shops up and down the country in November as part of the Child’s Voice appeal, when staff and customers joined in activities including sponsored silences, leg waxings and raffles.

The appeal is aiming for £50 million to develop the NSPCC help-line, text and online counselling services including ChildLine which can only answer two-thirds of the calls it receives.

“It’s a tragedy when a vulnerable child who may be in danger or distress summons the courage to phone ChildLine but can’t get through to speak to someone,” said Esther.

“This donation will help pay for the training of 62 volunteer counsellors to answer 25,000 more calls from children who would not otherwise get through.”

But what she really needs are volunteers to work the late shift at the call centre in Folegate Street, near Spitalfields Market, till 1am.

“Sometimes in the day and week it’s difficult to fill places,” Esther added. “Some of our most serious calls happen late at night, so it’s difficult to find volunteer counsellors for our late shifts up to 1am.”

Calls coming into the centre include many from youngsters across East London. Latest yearly statistics show 146 from landline or payphones in Shoreditch and 106 from Poplar and the Isle of Dogs last year alone.

But these were only a fifth of the total calls, if mobile phones are tagged on. ChildLine volunteers counselled more than 40,000 youngsters across London during that period.

Volunteers don’t need previous counselling experience, Tantzen points out, as ChildLine trains them. All volunteers need is a “commitment to help children.”

Contributions to help expand the call centre can be donated online to the Child’s Voice appeal.


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