A HELPLINE made over 200 referrals to the county council, West Mercia Police and other local agencies in the last year, a new report has revealed.

The NSPCC handled nearly 20,000 calls about child neglect across the UK in 2017/18, referring a total of 213 children to Worcestershire agencies.

Many child neglect reports were made during the 12 days of Christmas – with many relatives spending time with extended family members and becoming concerned for a child’s welfare.

The charity’s helpline hears from concerned adults every day and night with reports ranging from children being left unsupervised or with inadequate clothing.

Other reports include children being screamed at or living amongst mouldy food and animal faeces.

It will only refer the most serious of cases to the likes of the police and council.

A total of 19,937 calls and emails were received about child neglect – a third of all contacts to the NSPCC – and hundreds more are expected over the festive period.

The NSPCC Christmas Appeal is calling for donations to the helpline, which is open throughout the holidays, so staff can answer more calls.

Last year, someone got in touch with the helpline after visiting distant family over the Christmas period and had concerns about a parent letting her young children get drunk and take drugs.

The caller said: “Over Christmas I spent time with my family and what I witnessed was really worrying.

“I learnt that the children have been left home alone on various occasions and have also been allowed to get drunk and take drugs.

“They also have mental health problems. I think the whole family needs additional support.”

Often more than one child was the subject of a referral, making the actual number of those referred far higher.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Neglect doesn’t stop because it is Christmas, the holidays can in fact magnify problems because children are cut-off from the wider community and their support network.

“While it is positive that people are being vigilant and reporting concerns of children suffering neglect rather than standing by, it is still deeply worrying to see that neglect continues to be the most common reason for contacting the NSPCC Helpline."

“This is why we are appealing to the generous nature of the public to support our Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.”

The NSPCC Helpline is run by child protection professionals, including social workers, teachers and health specialists.

Neglect happens when a child’s basic needs are not being met

Just £5 pays for the Helpline to answer a call about child neglect. To donate visit the NSPCC website.

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email help@nspcc.org.uk.