An urgently needed helpline supporting vulnerable Black, Asian and minority ethnic children and families, who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, will be launched today by children’s charity Barnardo’s.
The first of its kind in the UK, the helpline, therapeutic support and live webchat facility will offer a lifeline to communities struggling to deal with issues such as sickness and bereavement and rising hate crime due to the pandemic, on top of entrenched existing inequalities, including poverty, financial hardship and health problems.
This vital support service is the result of a new partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, (NET) whose funds are ring-fenced to target specific at-risk groups across the UK. The £900,000 grant will be drawn from £20 million pledged to the Coronavirus Appeal by the COVID-19 Support Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings industry. The Fund aims to support those hardest-hit by COVID-19, including families and children living in poverty.
Barnardo’s new helpline will provide advice, signposting and support from trained specialist advisors and therapists – who are from a diverse set of cultural backgrounds and able to speak a range of languages.
The charity’s specialist frontline workers have reported supporting increasing numbers of young people from these communities during the pandemic, demonstrating the need for a UK-wide support service.
Official statistics show Black people are over four times more likely to die from COVID-19 related illnesses than white people of the same age. And nearly double the number of children from Black and Asian families are in poverty compared with white children. These children are 1.5 times more likely to be young carers, with little access to support over the last six months, leaving many to fall behind at school.
Barnardo’s CEO, Javed Khan, said: “As thousands of vulnerable children and families across the UK bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, the urgent need for specialist advice and support has never been greater.
“I know from personal experience that families in Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities have been hit hardest by the virus. Black people are four times more likely to die of the virus compared to white people, while the pandemic and recession are worsening existing inequalities. As a result, children are suffering bereavement, mental health problems and fear for the future – yet many remain hidden from essential support services and have been left to suffer in silence.
“Our new helpline for children and families is the first of its kind, offering a UK-wide support service to help these families tackle a unique and complex range of issues.
“Barnardo’s is proud to be at the forefront of responding to the challenges faced by vulnerable children and young people. In these uniquely challenging times we are working in partnership with Government, business and other charities to support those who need us most.”
Gerald Oppenheim, Deputy Chair, National Emergencies Trust, said: “This pandemic continues to have far-reaching impacts on family life, from bereavement through to financial challenges. This unique helpline offers a real lifeline for children and young people who often can’t access support through other routes, so we’re extremely pleased to be able to support Barnardo’s vital services at this difficult time.”
Yvonne Braun, ABI Executive Lead, Covid-19 Support Fund said: “The ambition of the insurance and long-term savings industry in establishing the Covid-19 Support Fund was to get help to those who need it most, especially children and families living in poverty. Barnardo’s work is vital in this area and it’s fantastic to see that our donation to the National Emergencies Trust is being used to support the first UK-wide helpline for Black, Asian and minority ethnic children.”
Barnardo’s knows from its See, Hear, Respond, therapeutic support service in England funded by the Department of Education, that Black, Asian and minority ethnic children have suffered increasing levels of trauma, and are afraid for their futures, their families and communities due to the pandemic.
Three quarters of these children, young people and families reported an increase in discrimination and hate crime within schools and communities, while mental health, isolation and loneliness, and barriers back into education were the main reasons for contacting the service.
Barnardo’s wants to work in partnership with other charities and community organisations through this initiative. This could include secondment opportunities, taking on associate counsellors, or being part of an advisory group.
The helpline number for children from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds is 0800 151 2605 or visit https://helpline.barnardos.org.uk.