A CHARITY is offering relief to the victims of child neglect after it was revealed as the most common reason for calls this year.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) handled 197 referrals across Berkshire, with 27 coming from Bracknell.

Slough (50) was top for cases of neglect, while Wokingham accounted for 28 referrals.

A new campaign has been launched by the NSPCC - Light for Every Childhood - to raise awareness and offer victims valuable support.

The charity believes this will be particularly important in the run-up to Christmas.

Peter Wanless, chief executive, said: “Neglect does not 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 appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.”

In 2017/18 the helpline dealt with 19,937 calls and emails about child neglect – a third of all contact to the NSPCC – with hundreds happening during Christmastime.

One relative got in touch with the helpline after visiting distant family over the Christmas period, with 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.”

Neglect happens when a child’s basic needs are not being met and can be down to several reasons, ranging from parents not having the skills, support or funds, to having mental health issues.

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