The coronavirus pandemic is hitting women and children particularly hard.
That’s the view of key workers at Spurgeons Children’s Charity, a national charity working with vulnerable children and families across the country, and expressed in written evidence submitted to and published by a parliamentary Women and Equalities committee inquiry into the impact of Covid-19.
‘the life chances gap widening for children from lower income families’
With some vulnerable children going ‘under the radar’, more under-5s witnessing domestic violence and abuse, teenagers increasingly likely to experience mental health issues and the life chances gap widening for children from lower income families, the pandemic is having a devastating effect on women and children, with increasing numbers not being safe in their own home.
‘remote interventions are not as effective as face-to-face’
And while remote or virtual interventions are playing a part in providing temporary support for those accessing Spurgeons’ care services, evidence shows they are not as effective as face-to-face interventions.
This Spurgeons evidence to the inquiry was based on the views of more than 20 staff members working in Early Years, Youth and Community, Family Support, Health Visiting, Teaching, Counselling, Childcare, Prisons, Social Work and Data Analysis, drawn on their experience of the previous six weeks of ‘lockdown’.
“Harm caused by domestic abuse and risks associated with mental health and neglect amount to more than half of all the safeguarding concerns we deal with in a ‘normal’ year,” said Spurgeons Head of Services Lorraine White.
“While our service delivery significantly reduced during April, and moved to remote or virtual contact as far as possible, the overall level of safeguarding concerns we’ve handled, requiring statutory intervention, has remained static.
‘risks to which the pandemic has exposed women and children’
“This represents a higher proportion for those we’ve still had contact with – indeed, it’s been double what we might have expected, all focused on the risks to which the pandemic has exposed women and children,” she added.
‘disadvantaged by limited access to fast broadband’
The Spurgeons’ submission outlined to the Committee just how hard young carers have been hit by lockdown, both practically and emotionally and how poorer families have been disadvantaged by their more limited access to fast broadband, lower data allowances and fewer facilities to support them with home schooling.
It also called on the Government to prioritise a return to schooling for vulnerable children, stating that if this didn’t happen school closures would be likely to widen the disadvantage gap yet further.
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About Spurgeons Children’s Charity
Spurgeons is a Christian children’s charity founded in 1867. Today we run 48 services/projects in 18 Local Authority areas across England (Midlands, East, West, South and London). More than 360 staff and 200 volunteers deliver a range of support services, including:
- Health and wellbeing for Early Years
- Children’s centres
- Domestic violence/abuse
- Young carers
- Prisoner family services
- Separated parents information programmes
- Specialist support for girls in gangs
One of our goals is to influence change by speaking up on behalf of children and families.