Childline has said it answered more than 1,000 calls from children and young people across Ireland on Christmas Day.

The listening service, which is open all year round for 24-hours a day, said that its volunteers answered 1,020 calls yesterday.

Volunteers have said they are expecting thousands more calls to the free service before New Year’s Day.

They are asking children who are feeling scared or upset to contact them.

The service offers children and young people a free, non-judgmental and non-directive phone line, live text and webchat service 365 days a year.

Childline said that to ensure the service could remain active throughout Christmas Day, dedicated volunteers gave up their time to listen, support and empower young callers.

The helpline said that the reality of the Christmas season is very different for many children and young people, and that for some, Christmas can be a lonely, frightening and upsetting time.

National Childline Manager Margie Roe said the number of calls received this Christmas reflects that of previous years.

"It's been a busy period as usual in Childline. Childline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year round and to be honest the Christmas period is not any different than any other time of the year," she said.

Julie Dorgan, who has been volunteering with Childline for more than 18 months, said: "We associate Christmas with such a positive time, seeing family and friends, but that is not the reality for a lot of kids and young people in Ireland."

She added: "The fact that Childline is there as a listening service for anyone who wants to ring up with any problem, no problem is too small, whatever that may be."

The helpline said that a number of the children and young people who called them on Christmas Day were experiencing or witnessing violence or abuse in their home and were audibly distressed, and that many other callers spoke of feeling anxious, sad and socially isolated.

Childline is available at 1800 666 666, or by texting the word "Talk" to 50101.