At Family Gateway we are extremely concerned about how our beneficiaries are coping during the coronavirus crisis. Many of them struggle with day to day life and activities during ‘normal’ times, and this period of isolation and uncertainty is proving to make them even more anxious and vulnerable. We’re especially worried about the impact on children and young people.
We are committed to continuing to offer our invaluable whole family support and looking at new, flexible, impactful ways of helping families and children to cope and avoid escalation of existing challenges, or new ones emerging. We are working hard to deliver the best service possible within government guidelines so that our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries are safe.
Our brilliant and resourceful team of Family Entrepreneurs are seeing an increased demand for support in terms of numbers and complexity as people struggle with isolation and lack of access to services and food. The stress of isolation, often in cramped conditions with children who would normally be at school or outside, is resulting in some concerning mental health escalation, food poverty, family conflict and potential child neglect. The staff are pulling out all of the stops to increase contact with families and children, find creative ways of engaging them in exercises and activities and reduce escalation of dangerous and concerning issues. We are also delivering free family meals to local families from our café, Howdelicious, thanks to generous donations and we hope that additional funds to expand and continue this service will be forthcoming.
We are, however, challenged by lack of resources and funding as income losses in our Community Hub and trading activities result in accommodation costs that cannot be covered. This impacts our ability to cover the costs of the support for families and children during this time. The lack of access to internet for some families limits their access to some virtual and online classes and groups and we are having to be incredibly agile in responding to their needs using a range of different means.
We continue to work with a number of partners, groups and local organisations to learn from each other and collaborate to utilise and share resources so that the most vulnerable members of our community are supported, reassured and safe during these unprecedented times.