The NSPCC’s Croydon service centre has become one of the charity’s first sites in the country to physically reopen its doors for children’s face-to-face support work.
Since the national lockdown, the practitioners at the base have been adapting the vital services they provide to ensure they can still support children during this unprecedented time. This included providing advice and reassurance over the phone and online. However, in some cases, this was not an option, and with updated government guidance they can now meet face-to-face at the Croydon centre itself.
The centre is now open three days a week, offering services such as “Letting the Future In”, which was intended to be delivered in person, face to face, in specialised therapeutic rooms.
This therapeutic service is for young people aged four to 17 who have been sexually abused, sometimes within their own homes, and require treatment for emotional trauma.
An NSPCC practitioner would meet the child once a week in a special play room at the centre. They take part in activities that involve messy play, physical movement, writing, storytelling and art, all designed to allow them to express the range of feelings and emotions they may be feeling.
The NSPCC – the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – are now doing all they can to offer services such as LTFI in a safe environment – and this has meant changing elements of their work.
Barry O’Sullivan, the NSPCC team manager at the Croydon centre, said, “We’ve been working to adapt and provide our services for children virtually, but new guidelines give us the opportunity to try our therapeutic sessions in person – in a building – again. And especially for those for whom virtual therapy was not an option.
“We’ve taken extra precautions to ensure children and their families are in a safe environment offering them the vital support service they need.
“Typically in play rooms we would have multiple toys and equipment, this has all had to be removed and replaced with a box of toys specifically for that child, meaning we wouldn’t use the same toys for different families.
“The set up of the rooms is different to allow more physical distancing and following the session, the room is cleaned and sanitised.”
During lockdown the charity has seen a record number of contacts to the NSPCC’s Helpline – 0808 800 5000 – with concerns for a child.
More than 22,000 adults contacted the NSPCC helpline in April, May and June, with parental behaviour, neglect and physical and emotional abuse the biggest worries. More than a thousand of these calls had to be referred to external agencies in London for further action.
The charity is now calling on Government to explain in detail how they will aid children’s physical and mental recovery from abuse and trauma suffered during the lockdown.
The NSPCC Croydon centre is at 254 High St, CR0 1NF. Telephone 020 8253 1850.
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