Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Helping others.

I'm a 16 year old girl who is normal in every wa y. However, over the past few days I've been helping a lot of people with issues. This is a normal thing for me but recently its been more. I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to help better. A lot of people I speak to are having trouble at home with emotional abuse etc and believe it's their fault. I know there isn't much I can do to help on this front but I don't know if I'm offering the right advice or support. Most won't talk to anyone else but me either. Please help. I****
Ask Sam


Hi there,

I was really pleased to get your letter as I hear from lots of young people in situations where they are supporting friends or family, and know that there will be others who can really relate to your situation. It sounds like you often find that others feel comfortable telling you about their problems and you want to be able to help.

I know that hearing that someone you care about is suffering in some way can be really hard because whilst you know that they are distressed you often won’t have any control over the situation and can’t make it stop. This is something that some people find quite upsetting and stressful. For this reason, I would always recommend that if you’re supporting a friend or family member through a difficult time, you also get some support for yourself. It could be from a trusted adult in your life or a ChildLine counsellor.

Anyone who has ever been on an aeroplane will have heard the safety message before the flight takes off. People should always make sure that their own safety equipment (life jacket or oxygen mask etc.) is in place before helping someone else. This is great advice because helps people to understand that they will be much more likely to help others if they are safe themselves.

I don’t know much about the advice or support you’ve given, so cannot say whether it is right or wrong. It’s great that you’ve been able to tell your friend that the emotional abuse isn’t their fault. That’s a really important message. It’s also not possible for anyone to always have all the answers for every problem that a friend might have. What you can do is listen, and point them in the direction of someone who might know about the specific sort of advice they need.

You could tell you friends about ChildLine and encourage them to talk to a counsellor, or check out the helpful information on our website. Often, feeling listened to will make a huge difference to anyone going through a tough time. Good listeners find that people find it easy to tell them about difficulties in their lives. This means that good listeners need to take special care to make sure that they get support when they need it so that they don’t feel under too much pressure.

Take care,

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