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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

30 Years of Childline

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The research project


In October 2016, ChildLine will celebrate its 30th anniversary. To mark this event, a witness seminar (supported by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Southampton) will be held at the BT Tower on 1 June to discuss ChildLine’s contribution to, and influence upon, children’s services, the voluntary sector and children’s policy. Our distinguished speakers include Dame Esther Rantzen (Founder/President of ChildLine and Trustee of the NSPCC), as well as other past and present leaders, counsellors, and researchers from the organisation, including John Cameron (Head of Helplines, NSPCC) and Colin Butler (ChildLine counsellor 1986-present). To shed light on broader medical, charitable, social and political contexts, we will also be joined by commentators including David Brindle (Guardian), Sue Minto (NSPCC), Anne Longfield (Children's Commissioner) and Shaun Woodward (former Secretary of State and MP).

The seminar will discuss a range of themes, including how ChildLine has influenced the establishment of children’s helplines in Africa, Asia and Europe; the broadening definition of ‘child abuse’ from 1986 to present, incorporating sexual and emotional abuse and neglect; the development of digital platforms, which provide new challenges and opportunities for children and charities; and the changing landscapes of children’s health, social responsibility, and individual rights (including the rights of the vulnerable and non-enfranchised) over recent decades.

In discussing these diverse range of themes, we will pay particular attention to exploring how ChildLine’s history can inform its present and future work with children, and the work of government, social work agencies, police and children’s services. PP|S have helped us to identify relevant audience members through their stakeholder analysis, and will advise on our subsequent production of a policy briefing.



Meet the research team

Dr Eve Colpus (University of Southampton) is the PI for the event. Eve is a lecturer in British and European history post-1850 at the University of Southampton. Her research interests are in social activism, volunteerism and selfhood in modern Britain. She is currently completing a book, Female philanthropy and the interwar world: between self and other (to be published by Bloomsbury Academic press).

Dr Jenny Crane (University of Warwick) is CI for the event. Jenny is a Public Engagement Research Fellow on the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, ‘The Cultural History of the NHS’, at the University of Warwick. Her research explores campaigning, social policy, and health in contemporary Britain.


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