More than a million parents1 believe their child could benefit from professional help in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, according to a new survey by Barnardo’s.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Barnardo’s anticipates that children and young people who were not previously vulnerable are now struggling because of the effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
Many may be slipping through the cracks as parents struggle to juggle life during coronavirus and children and young people are less visible to support services and schools because of social distancing measures.
But help is available for children, young people, parents and carers though the new See, Hear, Respond Partnership, which is funded by the Department for Education and was set up to support those who have become vulnerable throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that vulnerable children and young people are ‘hidden’ from vital support services. Many have suffered in silence, struggling with mental health problems or abuse at home, by gangs or online.
Parents are also stretched further than ever, many families have been hit hard financially, have had additional home schooling responsibilities or may be caring for other family members who are shielding. This can all put additional strain on family relationships and physical and mental health.
The poll of more than 1,000 British parents conducted by YouGov2 for the leading children’s charity also reveals that more than half (58%) of parents have found it difficult to cope with their children during lockdown at some point.
Almost a third (30%) report their children are often frustrated, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they get angry more easily and more than one-in-five (21%) saying they are sleeping less at times since lockdown began in March.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic children are more likely to be carers for ill or disabled family members and are more likely to suffer bereavement as the virus disproportionately affects people of colour.
While the top three things that parents thought would help their child cope better during the lockdown were spending time with wider friends and family (42%), time to be outside in the fresh air away from the home (36%) and going back to school (33%), a small but significant proportion (7%) said speaking to a professional children's support worker could help their child cope better.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said: “Being in lockdown has been a difficult challenge and stressful time for many families and both children and parents have had to quickly adapt to an extreme set of circumstances.
“It’s okay to be struggling at this time but there is support out there. Our See, Hear, Respond service is there for any child or parent who is having difficulties because of coronavirus. We won’t judge or blame you and we’re here to give you the support you need for your family to thrive.”
Through the See, Hear, Respond Partnership, Barnardo's is leading a coalition of national charities including the Children's Society, Action for Children and more than 40 local charities across England. They are providing support to children who are experiencing harm and increased adversity during coronavirus and are not being supported by other agencies or professionals like social workers.
Support can include engaging children outside of the home in safe activities, giving space between children and parents and working with them to create a package to help support the child and family on their return to education. Therapeutic specialist workers can also help children to understand the impact of COVID-19 and manage any overwhelming feelings and anxiety.
The coalition, made up of local and national charities, works together to expand its reach and help vulnerable children most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through online counselling, therapy and face-to-face support.
For more information or to make a referral to the See, Hear, Respond service visit: barnardos.org.uk/see-hear-respond
About the research:
1 According to data published by the Office for National Statistics, there were an estimated 16.78million parents living with at least one dependent child in the UK in 2018. 7% of respondents to YouGov’s survey of parents for Barnardo’s said speaking to a professional children's support worker could have helped their child cope better during the lockdown.
2 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4230 adults of which 1003 are parents of children aged 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 4th August 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).