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To Sam

Why does Childline turn us away at night time?

Hey (:

I just wanted to ask you about something that's really bothering me right now. Childline only talks to those in 'danger' when it is night time. I do wonder why?
Why does the only place that has ever listened, the only place that I know of that helps me to understand things, and is always there for me to talk to. The one thing that no matter where I move around to, or no matter where I go, I know I will always have. And now even they reject me...

You could only Imagine how this has left me feeling. Everyone leaves me at some point, and I just wanted to know why really?

Night time is the only time I can talk really, as people are around in the day so it wouldn't be private, and I recon a lot of other young people would be feeling the same right now.

I've been through lots, and I've relied on childline through a lot of things. They were there helping me with what to say when I told someone about some things at home, and supported me through being in care, and in a mental health unit. I've been moved around, and childline has been the one thing holding me together at some points. When I lost friends, I knew I wasn't alone, as I could come here and talk.
The point I'm getting at is, I love childline! and I don't feel it right for them to turn people away on the 1:1 chat at night. I know they have less staff, but less people would come through to talk?

So I'm asking you, Sam, to please explain to me the logic behind turning people who, may not be in danger, but are in some kind of disstress, feel loanly, and upset, away?

An explanation to this would be much appreciated, and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you for your time,


Ask Sam


Hi S,

First let me say how pleased I am that you decided to write this letter. I’m really glad that ChildLine has been here to help you through so much. It sounds like it’s felt like a huge let down to be told that you can’t get support in the same way late at night. The last thing ChildLine wants to do is leave young people feeling like they are being ignored or abandoned.

I can hear how hard it is not being able to talk at night, when you’re feeling upset and lonely. Late at night is often one of the busiest times for the counsellors because, as you’ve found yourself, that might be the only time in the day when young people get a bit of privacy to call or chat. It’s also a time when young people can find themselves in more dangerous situations. ChildLine would love to be able to speak to every single young person who needs some support during the night, but unfortunately, there just aren’t enough counsellors around then for that to be possible. I’m not sure if you know, but most of the counsellors are volunteers, so even though they might want to come in at night, they can’t, because they’ve got to be able to go to work in the daytime.

The Childline counsellors need to make sure that anyone who might be at risk at night can get help quickly (For example, if someone has been kicked out of home, or is feeling really suicidal). This means that when it’s busy, young people who are safe when they're calling might be asked to come back later, or in the morning. It’s important to remember though, that if anything changes in the night, and you no longer feel safe, you can come back through to ChildLine again.

It might be useful to think of some ways that you can safely let your feelings out at night time, if you can’t talk to anyone else. Sometimes small things can really help, like using the Balloon game, drawing a picture of how you feel, or writing all your thoughts in a list and shutting them in a box, so that you can take those thoughts out again and talk about them in the morning. You could use your list as notes for calling or chatting with ChildLine the next day, or you could send everything as an email to ChildLine. It can sometimes take a day or so to get a response to emails, but knowing that what you’re feeling right then will be seen can sometimes be enough to help put things to one side and help you to distract yourself for a while.

If things are getting too much and it doesn’t feel safe to let your feelings out at that point, it might be easier to find a way to just distract yourself completely. This could be by doing something relaxing, like looking the recipes or the fun threads on the message boards, listening to music or even reading something that can take your mind somewhere completely different.

A lot of young people have used the message boards to talk about their experiences of the night service. You could always try posting your own comments on the boards, in order to get some support from the other young people there. You can post messages to the boards at any time of the day, but just bear in mind they won’t be moderated and published until they’ve been read by one of the team.

Take care,


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