CALLS have been made for government action after a children's charity helpline received a record number of calls during the pandemic.

Children's charity, the NSPCC made a record number of referrals from its helpline in the South East throughout 2020/21.

There were 7,147 referrals to agencies in the year, a 36 per cent increase compared to the previous year when there were 5,262 referrals.

The figures echo concerns from the charity’s frontline teams that the pandemic has increased the risks of abuse and neglect.

Now the CEO of the charity, Sir Peter Wanless has made calls for the government to step in to resolve the situation.

He said: "‘We’ve been hearing first-hand about the immense pressures families have faced during the pandemic and the heavy toll that has taken on children and young people. For some children, this has included experiencing abuse, bereavement and other harm.

“The record number of contacts to our helpline reinforces the need for Governments across the UK to put children at the heart of their recovery plans. These must go beyond education and address the harm some have experienced so the pandemic doesn’t leave a legacy of trauma for children."