According to a new survey by Barnardo, many parents believe their child could benefit from professional help after the coronavirus lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all. Work, education, isolation, social distancing and more – we’ve all had to adjust this year and in many cases it hasn’t been easy. But there are now suggestions that it is the youngest and most vulnerable among us who is most affected.
Leading children’s charity Barnardos believes children and adolescents who were previously not at risk are now facing problems due to the effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown. It is believed that many slip through the cracks as the parents understandably have difficulty juggling life as we step into the “new normal”.
Meanwhile, children and adolescents are less visible to support services due to social distancing measures. Outside of school, because they feel stuck at home or excluded from their usual support systems, it is more difficult than ever for children and teenagers to get the help they need. It is therefore feared that vulnerable young people have been “hidden” from these vital provisions in recent months.
In fact, many young people have suffered in silence and struggled with mental health problems or abusive situations at home or online.
This is in line with recent findings from the charity The Childhood Trust, which released a report in June highlighting the broader impact of the pandemic on children. Mental health problems were cited under a range of topics including loss of learning opportunities, emotional and physical abuse, and concerns about playtime and wellbeing.
In addition, there are inequalities between black, Asian, and ethnic minority children, as BAME communities are more likely to care for sick or disabled family members and are more likely to experience grief as the virus disproportionately affects people of skin color.
What are the biggest challenges parents face when they get locked?
Parents and carers have been stretched further than ever before, as many families have been severely affected financially, had additional tasks at school or had to take care of other family members who had been shielded. All of this has put additional strain on family relationships and has damaged physical and mental health.
According to a YouGov poll of 1,000+ UK parents commissioned by Barnardo, more than half (58%) of parents had difficulty coping with their children at any point during the lockdown.
Almost a third (30%) say their children are often frustrated. More than a quarter (28%) say they get angry more easily, and more than one in five (21%) say they have slept less since the lockdown began in March.
What kind of support is there?
According to the survey, the top things parents believed would help their child get along better during lockdown were:
- Spending time with a wider network of friends and family (42%)
- Have time to be outside in the fresh air (36%)
- Go back to school (33%)
However, a small but significant proportion of parents (7%) said that speaking to a professional childcare provider could help their child cope better with it.
Fortunately, this aid is now available to children, young people and their parents and carers through a new initiative – the See, Hear, Respond Partnership. The program, funded by the Department of Education, was set up to support those who have become vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnardo’s executive director Javed Khan said, “Being in prison has been a difficult challenge and a stressful time for many families, and both children and parents have had to adapt quickly to extreme circumstances.
“It’s okay to fight at this point, but there is support out there.”
“Our See, Hear, Respond service is available for any child or parent who is struggling with the coronavirus. We are not going to judge or blame you and are here to give you the support you need to help your family flourish. “
How can you see, hear, react?
Through the partnership, Barnardo leads a coalition of national charities including the Children’s Society, Action for Children and more than 40 local charities across England. They hope to be able to support children who are suffering damage and increased adversity during the coronavirus and are not supported by other authorities or professionals such as social workers.
The types of support available include online counseling, therapy, and a variety of personal support services. The initiative hopes to encourage children to participate in safe activities outside the home, to create space between children and parents and to work with them to create a package that will support the child and family in their return to education. Therapeutic professionals can also help children understand the effects of COVID-19 and deal with overwhelming feelings and fears.
The service is open to any child you are concerned about. There is no threshold of need or harm that must be met in order to receive a service.
If you are concerned about the immediate health or well-being of a child or adolescent, it is important to seek help from your GP or local A&E department.
To contact the See, Hear, Respond service, visit Barnardo’s website for more information.