The end of lockdown is often referred to as ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. A light that has often felt tantalisingly close, only to recede once again into the distance. Lockdown has undoubtedly been a time for the dark corners to grow — so much more has gone unseen and unheard. It’s been easy for families to hide behind closed home doors, for parents to paint on a pixilated smile on a Zoom call in the face of domestic violence, empty food cupboards or mounting debt.
In these situations, it is often the needs of vulnerable children that go unmet, because they are so much harder to identify. The trauma of these hidden months brings with it a long Covid of a different sort for children and families across the UK. The Children’s Commissioner Childhood Vulnerability in 2019 report shows there are over two million children in England living in families with substantial complex needs, with 1.6 million children having no established, recognised form of additional support. Another report reveals that even before Covid, child poverty in England was increasing, placing additional strains on family life and on children, seriously impacting children’s development and life chances.
At Spurgeons children charity, inspired by our Christian faith, it is our mission to see children find a hope-filled future, to grow and flourish and reach their full potential. By being child-centred in our work, we recognise the importance of focusing on their greatest place of influence – their home life. It is a vision that has perhaps never been more needed.
As restrictions lift and our services reopen, we are already starting to see the emergence of the deeper, longer term impact on children and young people’s social development and mental wellbeing. The issues have intensified with the ‘stay home’ mandate, making identifying and assessing children’s needs much harder. The community created by support group meetings was a vital part of how many coped, and how they felt less alone.
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(c) The Christian Today, used with permission.