Published on
29 September 2020

Children’s charity Barnardo’s NI is launching two new services to support vulnerable families, who are struggling to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘See, Hear, Respond’ is an emotional wellbeing service that will work with children and young people, offering practical and therapeutic support. It will also offer advice and guidance to any adults who are concerned about a child’s mental health and wellbeing.

The second service is the first UK-wide helpline, specifically for children from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities, who are among those who have been most badly affected.

Both services launching this week are being funded through the National Emergencies Trust, which was set up by the Charity Commission to respond to domestic emergencies. The funds supporting the Barnardo’s services will be drawn from £20 million pledged to the NET Coronavirus Appeal by the Covid-19 Support Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings industry.

See Hear Respond

The UK wide helpline will receive £900,000, while £600,000 will support the See, Hear, Respond services for families in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales until May next year. 

The national helpline for Black, Asian and minority ethnic children which launches on Thursday, will tackle the particularly complex issues facing those communities, where people are four times as likely to die from Covid-19 than in white communities. The helpline and live webchat facility will provide advice, signposting and support from trained specialist advisors and therapists. 

Gerald Oppenheim, Deputy Chair, National Emergencies Trust, said: “This pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on family life, from bereavement through to financial challenges. Helplines offer a real lifeline for children and young people who often can’t access support through other routes, so we’re very pleased to be able to support Barnardo’s vital services during this difficult time.”

Michele Janes Head of Barnardo’s NI said,

“These new services will identify and support “hidden” children and young people, who are not currently receiving the help they need.”

 “As the pandemic continues, more and more families across Northern Ireland are facing poverty. The pressures and risks continue to heighten and many families are facing challenges like anxiety, isolation, family breakdown and financial worries.”

“We are very concerned about the lasting impact this could have on children’s mental health and wellbeing.”

 “These new services will provide the support children and young people need, to help them overcome their challenges and prevent problems escalating to crisis levels.”

The aim is to improve children and young people’s resilience and emotional and mental wellbeing, strengthen relationships and offer practical support.

 Families in Northern Ireland can now self refer online and find out more information at or call 0800 157 7015 available from noon until 7pm, Monday to Friday. You can also be referred by professionals.

The helpline for children from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds will operate from this Thursday and can be reached on 0800 151 2605

Barnardo’s NI will work closely with schools and colleges, health & social care trusts, healthcare professionals and other vital services involved in protecting children to identify families in need of support.


Yvonne Braun, ABI Executive Lead, Covid-19 Support Fund said: “The ambition of the insurance and long-term savings industry in establishing the Covid-19 Support Fund, was to get help to those who need it most, especially children and families living in poverty. Barnardo’s work is vital in this area and it’s fantastic to see that our donation to the National Emergencies Trust is being used to support this.”


The services will respond to every referral so no child gets missed. 

 There are three main aspects of the new services:

  • Immediate sign-posting of children, young people and families to statutory services and specialist support where there are significant mental health or safeguarding concerns.
  • Provision of advice and guidance for parents, carers or family members worried about their child or their own concerns. The service will provide information on and signposting to relevant national or local services to enable them to access relevant support.
  • A direct therapeutic trauma-informed, intervention; children, young people or families will be offered sessions at a frequency that suits, virtually with a therapeutic worker with a key adult in the child/young person’s life enabled to support them.

Barnardo’s joins NET’s other new national partners: Age UK, the Heads Together coalition, and Shelter (also supported by the funds pledged by by the COVID-19 Support Fund) as well as the LGBT+ Consortium, disability support network, DPO COVID-19 Coalition, Refuge, the refugee and asylum seekers support consortium led by Refugee Council, and Cruse Bereavement Care.

Since March, the NET’s Coronavirus Appeal has raised £93million, allocated £87million and provided more than 9,000 grants to grassroots charities and groups UK-wide that are tackling urgent needs. 

From 1st September, the Appeal stopped actively raising new funds, however the public can still make donations through the website: