Since 2011, BSA has been partnered with CHILDLINE, a nationwide organisation who run a 24/7 emergency hotline that children can call to receive help when in distress. When children call the toll free 1098 hotline, they are put through to a local operator who acts appropriately to best assist the child. For children with different needs, they serve as a one-point contact which facilitates instant access to support, active intervention or simply just offer a listening ear. CHILDLINE is the crucial link between children in need of care and protection and the available services that can assist them. Founded in 1996, CHILDLINE is available across India and receive over 6 million calls from children in distress or people who see children in distress each year.
The organisation works for the rights of children in general but has a specific focus on children that are in need of care and protection, especially those that are the most vulnerable. These areas include:
- Child labourers working in the unorganised and organised sectors.
- Street children and youth living alone on the streets.
- Domestic help, especially girl domestics.
- Children affected by physical/ sexual/emotional abuse in family, schools or institutions.
- Children who need emotional support and guidance.
- Child victims of the flesh trade.
- Victims of child trafficking
- Children abandoned by parents or guardians
CHILDLINE understand that a hotline cannot work in isolation so is based on a partnership model with a network of partners across the country. As one of these partners, BSA acts as a hotline for children in the Kalimpong District, as calls coming from this area to the nationwide hotline, are redirected to the BSA office. Our BSA team, which operates 24/7, then picks up these calls and takes appropriate short-term action to assist the child, whether this is organising a raid and rescue or merely offering advice. Following this, the team keep in contact with the child if appropriate, linking them with services that can help with rehabilitation in the longer term.
Based on BSA premises, our CHILDLINE team are highly trained to offer support to the children that call the hotline and assess the situation to take the best course of action. They also work closely with the rest of the BSA team from across departments to further their knowledge and find new ways to best act when certain situations arise.
The CHILDLINE team also spend time raising awareness for the hotline across the Kalimpong District. This includes holding seminars for school children explaining what the service is and how it may help them and setting up temporary outreach and help desks in public areas across the region. The team has also installed artwork across Kalimpong as another tool to raise awareness for their work. This awareness raising ensures that children who could benefit from the hotline are aware of it, adding greatly to the overall success of the hotline.