August 25, 2020
Blue Smile is a children’s mental health charity working across Cambridgeshire. Usually, we provide one-to-one expert therapy in schools.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has created unprecedented challenges. These have been keenly felt in small charities providing face to face services. As we entered into a strict lock-down at the end of March and our normal face-to-face therapy services paused with the school closures, we knew that children would need support more than ever.
We immediately started to develop new models of working in order to continue providing support to children and parents/carers. We developed a new Keeping-in-Touch phone service whereby our qualified therapists offered regular phone calls to parents and children to be a ‘listening ear’ and offer emotional support and advice. We also developed online therapy for children above the age of 10. We distributed 185 therapeutic art packs to children.
We have now completed an Impact Report for these services across the approximately 14 weeks that they ran. This early evaluation indicates that the new services provided essential support to children, parents, and carers when it was most needed. Our therapists made 671 calls to children and 636 calls to parents/carers, supporting 121 children and their parents/carers. We additionally provided 85 online therapy sessions.
One child told us that the phone calls were helpful because “I can tell my feelings to someone so they don’t get locked away!” Although we are expecting to see a considerable increase in demand for our services in the months to come, we are confident that by supporting children and families during lock-down, we have prevented a significant deterioration in the mental health of some children.
As a small charity embedded in the community we were able to listen to the needs of schools, children and parents, and quickly respond with new services that were compliant with the lock-down. This is a great benefit of having strong relationships and networks in the community. We understood what the needs were and could be very responsive to these. Many other charities across the county have been able to respond in a similar way, innovating and flexing services so that vulnerable people were not left without support.
As we face the coming months, and many challenges ahead, we can be proud of the many front-line charities who have done new things in new ways to help local communities.
The Impact Report is available from firstname.lastname@example.org