The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) announced this week that 1,384 children called their services for help this Christmas - representing a 38 percent rise from last year - with the majority of calls about family difficulties and loneliness.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph Margie Roe, the national Childline manager, acknowledged that Christmas is a time to have fun and spend time with family for most children, but for a significant number of others it can be a time of fear, stress and trauma with alcohol abuse having a huge negative impact.

'At this time of year Childline is always concerned about the children whose ideal Christmas is far from the reality that they experience,' she said.


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'For some of the children that we speak to every Christmas, what they want and need is to be happy, to be loved, to feel special and to have a Christmas worth remembering.

'Children contacted Childline on Christmas Day for a variety of reasons but the majority of calls this year were from children who were experiencing family difficulties and loneliness. We also had children who had used the service this year contacting us to let us know that they were doing okay and to say thanks.'

85 Childline volunteers listened and offered help to youngsters throughout the day.

The ISPCC said that 2011 was another year of extreme financial pressure and hardship for families.

'Children are very aware of the difficulties and pressures their parents face each day.' a spokesperson added.