Neighbours Alert Charity To Abuse

At least 7,000 seriously abused children received help last year after concerned neighbours alerted the NSPCC, the charity has revealed.

The organisation’s Helpline service received nearly 10,000 calls so grave that they had to be referred to police and social services in 2007. One in three of these calls came from people living near the abused child.

According to the NSPCC, one recent telephone call was from a neighbour who described a young girl being threatened with an axe by her father. Another neighbour alerted the charity after seeing a mother dangle her two-year-old child by the wrist from a second-floor window.

John Cameron, head of the NSPCC Helpline, said: “Thankfully, there are many responsible neighbours who are looking out for these children. But we want more to join them and to call as soon as they suspect something is wrong.

“You might think it’s a difficult thing to make a call like that but in the vast majority of cases the people who rang because they believed the matter was urgent were right.”

The NSPCC has announced a £50m Child’s Voice Appeal to expand its helplines.

Last year, 15,000 calls out of 95,000 made to the Helpline went unanswered. The charity aims to improve that statistic by training more counsellors and encouraging people to take action sooner through the appeal.

The appeal will also raise money for the NSPCC’s ChildLine service, which last year had 2.5m calls with 900,000 going unanswered.

Mr Cameron added: “Every day we deal with tragic stories of children who are living in the most heart-rending and often dangerous conditions. Many of them are so young they are helpless so their only hope is for someone to see how dreadful their lives are and take action to save them. When they do that we have to be sure we can take their calls.”

Dame Mary Marsh, director and chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Our Full Stop Campaign has spurred millions of people to act in recent years. The Child’s Voice Appeal is a major step forward against child cruelty and will allow us to help many more children. Every £10 donated helps us answer another call which could save a child’s life.”