The Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath is having a serious impact on individuals and families across the globe – from newborn babies to great-grandparents. As always, in challenging times, the most vulnerable are most at risk.
MPs are uniquely placed in their communities to help coordinate local responses to Covid-19 and support the needs of vulnerable children and families who are most at risk.
To help, we’ve created a toolkit full of practical ways you can help support vulnerable children and families in your constituency.
Our Covid-19 Toolkit in action:
1. Ask about support for children who are vulnerable in your area
During the pandemic families are facing additional pressures. Speak to the Lead Member and Director of Children’s Services at your local authority about their plans to support:
- the most vulnerable children and young people such as children in need, children on child protection plans, children in care, disabled children and those eligible for free school meals in line with Government guidance.
- Young people who are eligible to receive devices and data, in line with Government guidance.
- Children with ‘hidden’ needs who aren't on the radar of services, such as children in domestic abuse households.
2. Support local schools
Find out how local schools are responding to the challenges - including staff shortages. As well as how they are supporting children with the greatest needs, and what they are doing to address anxiety amongst staff and pupils. If visiting in person is not practical, consider a virtual message to staff and/or pupils.
3. Virtual surgeries for children & young people
Social media will be a key resource for children over the next few weeks and months. Dedicate a Q&A session on social media to under 25s to help understand their experience of the pandemic to address their concerns. You can read more about the virtual conversations we have been hosting with MPs and young people we support, as part of The Big Barnardo’s Conversation. Here are some examples:
- Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding
- Vicky Ford MP, Minister for Children and Families
- Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee
- Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Young People & Voter Engagement
4. Provide advice on your social media, website and newsletters
The pandemic is placing families under significant pressure, as they juggle home schooling, loss of employment and lack of respite. Your social media, website and newsletters are great platforms to signpost to local services and charities who offer support, national helplines, trusted information and Government guidance. To help support children and families share a link to :
- Barnardo's Family Space, an online resource for every parent and carer to find clear and reliable information and guidance on supporting children and young people from 0 to 19. (UK Wide)
- See, Hear Respond, a new service designed in response to covid-19 to support children who aren’t on the radar of services and are experiencing negative impacts on their health & wellbeing or at risk of harm. It’s being delivered by a consortium of national and local community-based organisations. Anyone in England can make a referral online or call 0800 157 7015.
5. Highlight the needs of the most vulnerable
When you are speaking in the media, on social media or in Parliament, highlight the challenges facing your most vulnerable constituents, including struggling children and families - to make sure their voices are heard. You can read our latest parliamentary briefings on the key issues.
6. Support local charities
Now more than ever, charities and community groups will be in demand. Reach out to support services in your local area to offer help. Throughout this uncertain time Barnardo’s will continue to raise issues that affect the children and families we support and the challenges our services may face.
If you need support to do any of our ideas please do not hesitate to contact Claire Stewart, Senior Public Affairs Officer, on 07584 347 308 or [email protected].
As the largest children’s charity in the UK, we support around 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers every year who are already facing daily struggles. For families living in poverty – often in insecure work; children living in the care system; for young people with a history of trauma, abuse, and mental health problems, one more challenging experience can literally push them over the edge.