For many of them school is a safe place and being forced into social isolation will be particularly damaging.
British Transport Police are still referring children found in danger across the network to our teams as children with nowhere else to go are able to access stations easily as many are now understaffed, with barriers left raised. With less station traffic this number has gone down but the complexity and challenging nature of these cases has gone up.
We have seen an increase in the number of parents and families contacting our services to say they are struggling to enforce the new lockdown restrictions with their children – which is particularly worrying for those with older and vulnerable family members - and we’re doing what we can to advise and help them. We are working closely with other services and organisations who have thanked us for our ongoing support and reached out to our teams for help.
Financial worries and loss of jobs will also be hard for many of the families we work with to bear and the added mental health challenges for those already suffering with anxiety mean the children referred to us need our support more than ever.
The way we reach these children needs to change and we have taken up this challenge by interacting and communicating with them in different ways. As we reduce face to face contact we are adapting creative ways to keep in touch with phone calls, WhatsApp chats, FaceTime meetings etc and we have vast resources of online games, stories, education and advice to share with them and feedback so far is that the young people are responding well and enjoying this new way of meeting with us.
Together we will do whatever it takes to make sure that while we can’t visit we can still ensure those we need to safeguard and support are not left to feel isolated, worried or alone.
The demand on our services is already increasing as children and families face additional pressures and burdens. Our project teams will always keep doing whatever they can but as a charity we are already facing the prospect of operating with a reduced income.
Your continued support at the moment is not only vitally important it is also hugely appreciated.