Over the last few weeks our charity partner Place2Be have adapted their offering to ensure that they can still reach children and young people who need their support whilst they are not at school during lockdown. For many families, this has been a very challenging time, and Place2Be’s regular telephone calls to parents and vulnerable students have been a lifeline.
Here Place2Be School Project Managers share the experience of two families and a Mental Health Professionals explains how the phone service has been working and the impact it has had.
Lucy’s family - Place2Be School Project Manager
“When lockdown started, I was quite concerned for ten-year-old Lily because I know school is a bit of a refuge for her. Her mum died a few years ago, so she lives with her Dad and we know they struggle financially because she often comes into school without proper uniform. At home they don’t have any internet connection so although Lily loves school, she hadn’t been able to do any of the schoolwork. We later discovered they also didn’t have fridge. Through my weekly calls with Dad I was able to communicate these concerns back to the school who were very grateful for the information and support when they have so many families to check in on. They were able to provide Lily with a phone, some schoolbooks, and they even sourced the family a fridge. Dad had also been very concerned about being able to access food vouchers without an internet connection, so we were able to set up a more regular delivery of vouchers by school to ease his concerns. He is the type of person who doesn’t like asking for help, so it’s a relief that Place2Be is able to provide a vital bridge between families and parents at this time to ensure they were able to get the support they needed quickly.”
Alice and her son’s story - Place2Be School Project Manager
“When Alice picked up the phone this week she sounded at her wit’s end – ‘I just don’t know what to do anymore, I need help.’ Alice’s seven-year-old son had always had challenging behaviour, but after six weeks of lockdown the family was at breaking point. His meltdowns and angry outbursts were happening multiple times a day, and the usual respite provided by school was long forgotten. He was also up multiple times a night, so everyone was sleep deprived and feeling desperate.
The call was an important opportunity for Alice to vent her frustrations and fears that things would not get better, but we also focused on thinking about her son’s triggers and strategies for dealing with the tantrums. We discussed things like keeping a daily log of his patterns and behaviours, as well as taking a moment to check in with him at times when he’s not feeling highly emotional. Alice made a plan to follow up with his paediatrician, who they hadn’t seen for several years. We also discussed ways that Alice can spend some time focusing on herself and her own wellbeing.
After a half an hour conversation, Alice had gained a real sense of empowerment. I reminded her of how far she’s already come, and the resilience that she’s shown throughout the lockdown period. As we ended the call, Alice thanked me and said ‘You’ve given me the strength I need to be proactive about this. I’m going to do something about it today.’ She had moved to a much more hopeful place. I will continue to check-in on her and the family on a weekly basis.”
Place2Be’s remote telephone check-in service during lockdown - Place2Be Mental Health Professional
“A number of parents have been extremely grateful for the calls. They have struggled with helping their children with special needs, particularly ASD, ADHD and anxiety. I have been able to suggest strategies for them to try, with the knowledge that I will be calling back to offer further help if needed. This is particularly true of parents where their first CAMHS appointment has been cancelled and they are feeling anxious and vulnerable. Parental anxiety has also been apparent in relation to their lack of confidence and feeling overwhelmed when trying to support their child's learning. The statements I have heard from parents are ‘I feel as if I'm letting them down’, ‘I just don't know what to do with him’, ‘I'm really struggling’. Just that phone call can make a world of difference to them and the fact that I can signpost them to organisations that can help or highlight their difficulties to school can make a huge difference."