A CHILDLINE counsellor who almost doubled her volunteering hours with the NSPCC last year has been recognised for her "selfless contribution".

Alison Archard, 61, from Conwy has been volunteering with Childline since 2013. She registered her interest to be a counsellor after seeing an advert in a local newspaper.

Since then, the former midwife has volunteered more than 1,750 hours of her time for the charity and last year alone clocked up 437 hours counselling worried children and young people.

After the first national lockdown was enforced in March 2020, the mother-of-three and grandmother-to-one was volunteering up to four times a week at the NSPCC’s Childline base in Prestatyn to help balance a shortage of volunteers.

Alison Archard pictured with Dave Taylor

Alison Archard pictured with Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor, Childline supervisor, said: “We have so many wonderfully dedicated and reliable volunteers, but last year was so different for everyone affecting people in very different ways, including our volunteers and staff.

"Alison usually volunteers around 230 hours a year with us, but almost doubled the time she gave us over the course of the year knowing we, like many other charities, were facing a challenge like no other.

“Alison has been just incredible and a year on from the start of the first national lockdown I wanted to publicly recognise her selfless contribution as a token of appreciation.

“Without volunteers like Alison it wouldn’t have been possible to be there for the children and young people who have needed, and continue to need, our support and the lifeline it can provide them.”

There are 12 Childline bases across the UK, including two in Wales – located in Prestatyn and Cardiff. Volunteers at each base answer contacts from children and young people from across the UK, delivering counselling sessions on anything that might be worrying them from family and relationship breakdowns to mental wellbeing and abuse.

Childline adapted quickly in response to the pandemic restrictions to enable it to deliver more counselling sessions to children and young people online and offering some of its volunteer training virtually too.

Alison Archard has been volunteering with Childline since 2013

Alison Archard has been volunteering with Childline since 2013

Volunteer training started at the Prestatyn base in person again at the end of 2020 and since then Alison has been helping to mentor new volunteers coming through their training.

Alison says: “A year ago, I should have been sitting on my balcony in Spain with a good book and some knitting, enjoying the warm spring sunshine - what I did not expect to have done is to have set out on one of the most amazing years ever.

“Rather than sitting on the balcony, I sat in the counselling room at the Prestatyn Childline base and went on to have one of the most rewarding, interesting and fulfilling years ever.

“The last year has been all the richer for having had Childline and the mutual support of my fellow volunteers.”

The charity continues to be in need of Childline volunteers in Prestatyn and is inviting people who might be interested in finding out more to get in contact via Sally.King-Sheard@nspcc.org.uk or 01745 772 101. Successful applicants are asked to give a minimum 4.25 hours per week as a Childline counsellor, and receive a comprehensive training package.

Children can contact Childline every day of the week on 0800 11 11 or via childline.org.uk.

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.