Given the current situation regarding the challenges that COVID-19 pose and the new Government guidelines coming into force, we wanted to update everyone in relation to HAY’s activities. Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, children, young people and the families who we work with. As a result, we have taken the decision to close all HAY activity sessions and workshops until further notice.
We will keep you up to date with what decisions HAY makes and the impact on our activities and workshops.
There is a lot of information available about this coronavirus (also known as Covid-19) and not all of it is correct or helpful. Please stick to the official advice from the government about coronavirus and what to do which is updated daily.
There is a lot of talk of older people being the most vulnerable. At the moment, the scientists are telling us that although children and young people aren’t getting very ill with coronavirus, they are still likely to be carriers and therefore could infect vulnerable people. For example, an infected grandchild who doesn’t appear ill, can infect a grandparent who is much more likely to become very ill. Please play your part and ensure that you are following the government advice about social distancing.
We know this is a worrying time for everybody and that you may feel more isolated at this time.
We have adapted the Youth Bonds Project responding to the current needs of vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Our staff are currently dealing with an unprecedented level of telephone queries from families needing support.
We are providing daily digital and telephone support to families and children via Zoom, Face Time, WhatsApp and other platforms, trying wherever possible to use the digital platforms used by individual families.
We are providing emotional and practical support to parents. Via our current telephone response support, families are telling us that they are experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression and we are responding to this in order to safeguard both parents and children.
Many families live in overcrowded flats with no outside space for the children. We are providing on-line resources for games, learning, and family activities to ease anxiety and improve emotional and physical health and to sustain children’s learning and development.
Lone parents are worried about falling ill to the virus as they have no other family support system. We are providing telephone contact to reassure many parents and talk them through information and social services support.
We have curated Well-Being Art and Activity Packages for individual families according to their interests and needs. We will provide these for young people and families to sustain mental and emotional health and learning. Emotional health is the thing that most families say they are experiencing. Our corporate funders will be making donations to buy these packages so that we can arrange delivery direct to families.
We are supporting their education by encouraging young people to use the educational resources available – when we call each week, we go through some of the work with them.
We continue to work with social workers and schools to ensure those most vulnerable have a support network.
We ensure our families are aware of and accessing the scheme run by their school for free school meals as well as providing families with recipe’s for healthy food to cook that is not very expensive. WE are also working wit local food banks and ensuring our families can access them should hey need to.
We are advising families about their budgets changing and the help that is available. Food budgets have increased and those who already struggle financially are finding it hard as their income has not increased.
We are giving families ideas on how to keep healthy indoors (many of the families we work with live in flats with no access to outdoor space).
We are working with Apple who will be providing by digital means ITC workshops for young people.
Young Women’s Writing Project
We have switched from face to face services and are currently providing digital workshops using Zoom. Many of the young women we support live alone, transitioning from care to independent living. They are struggling with isolation and they tell us it is affecting their mental health.
Our staff are trained in Digital Youth Work and we work within good practice guidelines and are supported by the Partnership for Young London.
We are a resilient, innovative organisation working on the ground responding to changing needs of vulnerable families
Here are a number of measures you and your family can take to maintain good mental wellbeing during this period:
Messages & activities for helping children deal with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Encourage active listening and an understanding attitude with the children. Children may respond to a difficult/unsettling situation in different ways: clinging to caregivers, feeling anxious, withdrawing, feeling angry or agitated, having nightmares, bedwetting, frequent mood-changes, etc.
- Children usually feel relieved if they are able to express and communicate their disturbing feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Every child has his/her own way to express emotions. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing and drawing can facilitate this process. Help children find positive ways to express disturbing feelings such as anger, fear and sadness.
- Encourage an increased sensitive and caring environment around the child. Children need adults’ love and often more dedicated attention during difficult times.
- Remember that children often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how adults respond to the crisis is very important. It’s important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s’ concerns and speak kindly to them and reassure them. If appropriate and depending on the age, encourage parents/caregivers to hug their children and repeat that they love them and are proud of them. This will make them feel better and safer.
- If possible, make opportunities for children to play and relax.
- Keep children close to their parents and family, if considered safe for the child, and avoid separating children and their caregivers as much as possible. If a child needs to be separated from his/her primary caregiver, ensure that appropriate alternative care is provided and that a social worker, or equivalent, will regularly follow up on the child. y If children are separated from their caregivers, ensure regular and frequent contact (e.g. via phone, video calls) and re-assurance. Ensure all child protection and safeguarding measures are addressed.
- Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible or help create new ones in a new environment, including learning, playing and relaxing. If possible, maintain schoolwork, study or other routine activities that do not endanger children or go against health authorities. Children should continue to attend school if it is not a risk to their health.
- Provide facts about what is going on and give clear child-friendly information about how to reduce risk of infection and stay safe in words they can understand. Demonstrate to children how they can keep themselves safe (e.g., show them effective handwashing)
- Avoid speculating about rumours or unverified information in front of children.
- Provide information about what has happened or could happen in a reassuring, honest and age-appropriate way.
- Support adults/caregivers with activities for children during home isolation/ quarantine. Activities should explain the virus but also keep children active when they are not at school, for example:
- hand washing games with rhymes
- imaginary stories about the virus exploring the body
- make cleaning and disinfecting the house into a fun game
- draw pictures of virus/microbes’ that to be coloured by children
- explain person protective equipment (PPE) to children so that they are not scared
Source: WHO. Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCOV outbreak (Handout). WHO: Geneva, 2020.
Please do call the Project Managers who are remotely working and will continue to support you.
Bhavini Kotecha- 07725 858 199
Bijal Karavadra- 07793 210 283