Charity warns that challenges of covid could still get tougher

There’s been some challenging times for families in Croydon during the coronavirus lockdown, but for some, they are about to get even tougher, according the manager of a children’s charity centre based on the High Street.

“For some families that don’t have involvement with children’s services, working from home more has meant they’ve relished this time with their children, recognising that this time they have together is unusual and are making the most of it,” said Barry O’Sullivan, who works at the NSPCC Croydon Service Centre.

“The families we work with – although not always – tend to have other adversities in their life. With families who face challenges anyway, being together in close confinement was always going to be difficult. For parents who rely on children going to school for their mental health or children who have the support of school meals, it’s going to be more difficult in my opinion.

“Things have slightly settled down now,” O’Sullivan said, “but I anticipate it’s going to increase again as we come out of lockdown.

“Parents starting to go back to work and children going back to school might bring up lots of excitement but also for some children a lot of worry.”

O’Sullivan and the NSPCC team in Croydon had to adapt rapidly to changed circumstances when lockdown began in March so that they could continue to support vulnerable children. Therapy sessions which previously had been conducted face-to-face suddenly ceased to be a safe option. NSPCC staff swiftly made their practices virtual.

Seeking Solutions is a free service offered by the NSPCC intended to help young people – aged seven to 18 – to solve their problems and worries by building their confidence, skills, strength and resilience.

Barry O’Sullivan: the NSPCC has continued to help vulnerable children during lockdown

“We would usually deliver this service in schools or at the Service Centre so we know that the space is contained,” O’Sullivan said.

“Working from home is unpredictable – are there going to be disturbances with other people coming into the room, are there other siblings in the home? Some people are in really small accommodation, so for the young people, it’s a challenge being able to find that space within their homes to fully engage. But I think most have done really, really well.

“Covid-19 is obviously coming up as a concern now, especially when there are relatives with health issues already. However, I think for a lot of young people it’s more of an issue not having the support of their friends. It can be hard for children, some don’t have their own bedroom or a space that’s their own.

“It’s been a real struggle when somebody has died of covid-19 within a family and the impact that’s had with the family not being able to meet up to go through the social norms of grieving. We’re having to think about what support the parents need when they are grieving and supporting a child at the same time. We are told about their worries around attending funerals and hugging grandparents.

“Working virtually on calls or video calls has worked really well in ways we hadn’t expected in the beginning. Even though the practitioners can’t be in the same room as the child, we’re able to use the same resources we normally would use.

“Practically what we’re doing is sending out lots of resources to families, particularly if they don’t have many resources anyway. For instance, we’ve sent lots of different worksheets and colours that the child can use.”

Children can refer themselves to the confidential service or they can be referred by a teacher, parent, carer or social worker. No matter how they come to access the service, the child has to give their consent to take part in the work, which consists of eight one-hour sessions held once a week, in normal circumstances at a location chosen by the young person at a time that suits them.

To find out more about accessing Seeking Solutions, contact the NSPCC’s Croydon Service Centre on 020 8253 1850.

Childline has a huge online community where children can get support from their peers on message-boards and use expert resources to help them through any issue they are concerned about. If adults are worried about children they can get advice from NSPCC practitioners on 0808 800 5000 or help@nspcc.org.uk.

In April, the NSPCC launched its appeal “Still here for children” and is urging the public to visit its website and donate £10 to help fund vital services like Childline.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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