Children in need of help will be able to get counselling directly through their smartphones by using an app launched today by the NSPCC’s Childline.
The free app, called For Me, will enable youngsters to chat directly with counsellors and find advice on topics such as bullying. Each user will have their own private "locker" area where they will be able to consult their daily mood tracker and write down personal thoughts.
Developed in partnership with the bank Barclays, which funded its production, the app is the first of its kind to be available in the UK and the Channel Islands. It was invented by four teenagers who wanted to make technology to benefit the community and identified a need for young people to have easy access to confidential advice and support.
When Childline was first launched 30 years ago, all contact was over the telephone, with many calls being made from telephone boxes. Today, 71 per cent of counselling sessions are delivered online by means of email and one-to-one chat, with the majority of the remaining counselling sessions being conducted with young people through their mobile phones. Last year, 1.8 million sessions on the Childline website were conducted using mobile devices.
"Launching the For Me app shows how we’re continuing to capitalise on new technology to give children and young people the easiest possible access to Childline’s free and confidential advice and support," said John Cameron, head of childline services at the NSPCC.
"Its development will enable our younger generation to tap directly into Childline’s expanding range of services through their mobile phones whenever and wherever they need our help."
One of the four teenagers who invented the app, Laura Hindle, said the idea came to them during a school lesson.
"We were thinking of ways to make technology benefit the community," she said. "Watching the idea evolve into reality has been quite a journey and it’s great to see the finished product ready to help young people."
The app has been named For Me to ensure it can be installed discreetly on mobile devices, so if someone happens to see the phone they can’t tell that it’s a Childline service.