Be sympathetic to the pressures on young people

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Young people are increasingly worried about financial issues, according to the NSPCC’s ChildLine service.

ChildLine bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow saw counselling sessions about money worries increase by over a third during 2012/13, with 535 children and young people reaching out over their concerns.

The figures suggest that school leavers are most affected, as 69 per cent of contacts came from young people aged 16-18.

Elaine Chalmers, head of ChildLine Scotland, said: “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of counselling sessions about money problems, and in a third of those cases the young person told us their concerns were so great that they felt they were jeopardising their mental health. Some of these contacts were from children fearful about their family’s situation, but the majority were from young people, starting out in the world, who were already feeling the strain of managing their finances.

“They talk to us about feeling stressed, anxious and upset about their difficulties, with many feeling overwhelmed and entirely helpless. And the run up to Christmas often brings increased financial pressures. It’s so important that young people know that there is always someone there to listen, as well as free and impartial help to address their circumstances and make the best decisions moving forward. There are always options and you are not on your own.”

Some of the young people contacting the helpline struggled to make ends meet. ChildLine’s Glasgow base counselled a boy aged 16-18 who was struggling to cope: “I’ve got all these bills to pay but no money to do it with – I don’t know what to do. I’m on benefits but I never seem to have enough to cover everything. I don’t have any family close by who can help me. I’m in such a mess.”

Another contacted the Aberdeen base after finding out they might lose their family home: “We’re really struggling for money at home. It’s upsetting me seeing my parents so stressed but I don’t know what I can do to help. I think we might be losing our house which scares me. I don’t want to tell my friends about what’s happening because I don’t think they’ll understand.”

John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “We urge any child or young person with concerns to speak to a trusted adult or friend, or to contact us at ChildLine 0800 11 11 or online at childline.org.uk”