As restrictions ease and we begin to imagine a world beyond the coronavirus crisis, we need to recognise that, it will be a long time before the effects of the pandemic are truly behind us.
Two weeks ago, I wrote to Children 1st supporters across Scotland to tell them about Ella* and her family. Ella is one of hundreds of children we have supported to cope through the coronavirus crisis.
Ella’s mum told us: “Our 8-year-old daughter had a sharp and sudden change to her mental health. Our GP eventually got us help but the one size fits all approach didn’t work - we didn’t fit and nor did Ella.
"We were desperate. In the past when I thought of families in crisis, I never saw our family reflected back - a struggling family, in need of support. Thankfully, Children 1st just saw a family. They focused on getting to know Ella. They listened, understood, showed kindness and built trust.”
What Ella’s mum said is something we hear from lots of families we work with - “the one size fits all approach didn’t work”. Every child and every family is different, so how can the support they need be the same? At Children 1st we believe in holistic family support. This means that we get to know a child and their family, understand their individual and collective needs, and offer the support that’s right for them. Before we meet a family there are no set ideas about how long we will work together or what we will do, because it depends on what they want and need.
Living with restrictions throughout the pandemic has made it clear how complex family life can be. Many children have spent months separated from their friends, loved ones and even parents and carers who don’t live in the family home. The distress and anxiety caused by lockdown has had a huge impact on families and it will take time and support to heal. Across Scotland, more and more children and families are in crisis.
At Children 1st, we’re determined to make sure that every child has access to the support they need to recover from the experiences they’ve had. As restrictions ease, many children and their families will need ongoing support to keep them safe and help them move forward. That’s why we’ve launched our Spring Appeal, to ask for your support to prevent the families we’re working with reaching breaking point and ensure we’re ready to be there for the children we’ve yet to meet.
As a charity, Children 1st provide practical and emotional support to families across the country and also work alongside politicians and other organisations to transform systems, keep children safe and prevent harm. From building Scotland’s first Barnahus to helping protect children’s rights through the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we make sure children and families voices are responded to at every level of decision-making.
By supporting our Spring Appeal you can help children get the support they need in a way that’s right for them. I know this is a difficult time for everyone but if you can, please make a donation today. If your support makes it possible to reach one more child or family, you will make a lifelong difference. Thank you.