Debbie Eldridge, Family Support Worker in our South West London Centre, shares her experience working with families during the Lockdown…
Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought a lot of sudden changes for families. During these uncertain times, anxiety and worry have increased or emerged for families who have had to adapt to living very differently on a day to day basis. With families in lockdown, parents and carers have been adapting to keeping their children occupied whilst helping them learn, as schools have been closed. It is a worrying time for all, and children particularly have needed help and reassurance. It can be hard for children and young people to manage and talk about difficult emotions.
For families who have children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) this has been an especially challenging time. Some families have been able to get out to exercise, whilst others have not been able to do so, or have had to shield completely and stay at home. Many families have found it difficult dealing with isolation as they have no longer been able to see or rely on their established support networks like family or friends. Day to day challenges that families were already living with, such as overcrowding, have become even more apparent. Helping families to maintain wellbeing and ensure children have the structure they need – especially during these challenging times – has been a very important part of the ongoing support being provided.
Families have also shared positive stories and outcomes
They are able to spend time with their children in a way they have never been able to do before. They have been able to try out new activities and enjoy special times as a family.
Although the way I interact with families may have changed, the role has remained the same in many ways, providing practical and emotional support. Keeping in touch via telephone calls, social media or video calling has helped me to keep supporting families and continue with focused work. This ranges from helping families to adapt, to managing the impact on relationships, maintaining routines and structure, through to parenting techniques. Adapting resources and introducing new ways of using them with families has allowed me to be creative during this time.
Families have adapted and engaged well with using technology…
… (especially the children and young people!). I have also been getting used to working from home and although I am talking to some families more often now, I miss not seeing families face to face. Technology has also allowed me to remain connected and in regular contact with colleagues, as a team we are able to support each other as we continue to help the vulnerable families that need us.
As well as regularly talking to families and other professionals, I now attend virtual meetings such as Child Protection Conferences and Team Around the Child meetings. These involve families along with other professionals from schools, as well as social workers, to ensure that support continues, and that families remain safe and well. Working together with colleagues from a range of services and organisations is an important part of what I do, now more so than ever.
Thanks to the kindness of others, being able to provide families with supermarket shopping vouchers has been such an important part of the practical support. Many families have reported what a big difference this has made to them as they juggle with budgeting and managing changes in finances.
We have been planning how we can support families moving forward through further changes. We have an online group starting soon with parents of Primary school children to help support them to manage any anxieties they or their children may have during the transition of returning to school. This group will be a space for parents and carers to discuss their anxieties and hopes while exploring the positive benefits and advantages of going back to school. Together we will discover ways and find solutions and look towards the future for children.
If you need help or support at this time, find out how to get in touch here. For more information on our services specifically in South West London, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or see our South West London page.
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