22/05/2003

Government called on to fund school counselling

The NSPCC has called on the Government to provide sufficient funding for the adequate counselling of school children in Northern Ireland.

The children's charity made the call at an NSPCC conference in Belfast because of fears that they will not be able to continue to pay for such services themselves in the near future.

Ian Elliott, NSPCC Northern Ireland Director said: "Children spend a third of their lives in schools, providing accessible and independent counselling services in schools will provide children with someone to turn to. The NSPCC calls on all agencies involved in education to support a drive to develop and fund schools counselling services that are accessible for all children and young people."

Today's conference also launched the evaluation report of the NSPCC Schools Counselling and Support Service and included lectures on emotional literacy, which looks at how children and young people can learn to understand and express their emotions.

Cathy Bell, Schools Counselling Manager said: "We can now prove the effectiveness of independent counselling services in schools, in three years this service has been used by 4,000 children on a wide range of issues. To achieve our aim of ending cruelty to children we must provide children and young people with someone they trust and can talk to about worries in their life to help them to cope with pressures of family and personal experiences."

Twelve recommendations were also made to improve the service in areas of ongoing evaluation, monitoring and increased partnership agreements with schools and other agencies.

The NSPCC counselling service has been running since September 2000 and now operates in 37 schools throughout Northern Ireland in the Western, South Eastern and Belfast Education and Library Boards.

The aim of the service is to provide independent counselling for children in schools as part of the 'Child at School' programme of the NSPCC FULL STOP Campaign.

(MB)

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