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£7 million for new coalition of vulnerable children’s charities

Friday June 5th, 2020

A ‘coalition of charities’ will help vulnerable children most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as part of a Department for Education programme.dept-education

More than £7 million will fund the launch of the See, Hear, Respond service, to provide targeted help to vulnerable children, young people and their families affected by the virus and the measures put in place to stop its spread. The coalition, led by Barnardo’s, will work alongside local authorities, schools and colleges, police forces, healthcare professionals and other vital services involved in protecting these children.

Funded by the Department for Education, the partnership will harness the role and reach of the charity sector. Barnardo’s will work in partnership with other national children’s charities as well as community-based organisations to provide solutions to the challenges facing children and families that may have been exacerbated by the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch of the programme comes as the Department for Education and Home Office prepare to open a new joint £7.6 million fund for national vulnerable children’s charities working in England and Wales on issues including child sexual abuse and child criminal exploitation. The money is aimed at those charities that have suffered financial harm as a result of the virus, helping them to stabilise and continue delivering for vulnerable children and young people.

The programme will focus on finding and reaching out to children around the country who are experiencing negative impacts on their health and wellbeing, as well as those at risk of harm.

This funding will provide:

Access to an online support package to children and families ensuring they have readily available, accessible and interactive information;

Online and telephone referral service by trained professionals who can source further help and support from charity workers within the partnership;

Online counselling or therapy for those experiencing high levels of anxiety, trauma or other mental health issues that can be safely addressed through digital means;

Youth interventions and face-to-face crisis support, particularly for those at risk of or experiencing various forms of exploitation, including criminal exploitation;

The announcement builds on the Government’s Hidden Harms Summit, held virtually on Thursday 21 May, which focused on support for people at risk from domestic abuse, wider harms and exploitation, including children.

Children may be facing additional risks during the pandemic, including being less visible to safeguarding professionals and isolated from normal support structures. At the same time, reports of domestic abuse have been rising, with the charity Refuge reporting increased visits to its website and calls to its helpline.

The project will aim to reach those children and families who are not in contact with children’s services, and the support provided to them will aim to prevent their needs escalating. The project will prioritise those most at risk of harm either inside or outside the home, including very young children and adolescents.

The Department for Education has also provided funding to other charities working with vulnerable children, including Grandparents Plus, Family Rights Group, FosterTalk, the Care Leavers Association, Become, Drive Forward Foundation and Adoption UK. This adds to investment in the NSPCC’s Childline, while some £10 million has already been committed to the Family Fund, helping families with children that have complex needs and disabilities through grants for equipment that makes their lives easier while implementing social distancing measures, including computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

The project will aim to reach those children and families who are not in contact with children’s services, and the support provided to them will aim to prevent their needs escalating. The project will prioritise those most at risk of harm either inside or outside the home, including very young children and adolescents.

All funding is provided as part of the £750 million package of support committed to charities by the Chancellor. The application process for the £7.6 million Department for Education and Home Office fund for national vulnerable children’s charities will open shortly.

Additional funding of £125,000 will be delivered to Fosterline to deliver free-to-access and specialist one-to-one support to foster families, in recognition of the additional support needed at this time to keep foster families together.

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