With the continuing challenges and uncertainties posed by the pandemic, we may all be feeling a bit more vulnerable than usual.
It has been around 22 months since the pandemic started, and I’m sure we are all hoping this Christmas will be a little more like the ones we were used to before the lockdowns and other restrictions of Covid.
Apart from the dreadful toll Covid has taken in terms of illness and death, there have also been other damaging consequences of the pandemic.
One of these has been a rise in domestic violence and abuse. In Wales, during the lockdown period, calls to the Wales national helpline, Live Fear Free (0808 80 10 800), rose by 49 per cent.
Office of National Statistics surveys have shown levels of loneliness across Great Britain have increased since spring 2020.
In Wales, the percentage of people reporting they often or always felt lonely ranged from 8.5 per cent in Rhondda Cynon Taf to 14.3 per cent in Caerphilly.
A new report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has also revealed the scale of financial difficulties people with mental health problems have faced during the pandemic.
The challenges usually faced by people with mental health problems were compounded by loss of income and employment and poor health. These factors contributed to people with mental health problems facing a much bigger risk of financial hardship during the pandemic than the wider population.
These are just a few of many examples we could give of the damaging effects of the pandemic. This makes it more important than ever that we are aware of what’s going on around us, with neighbours, family and friends, and spotting signs of when they might need our support.
We have recently been working with the Wales Safeguarding Procedures Board and others from statutory and third sector agencies to develop online resources to help everyone recognise signs of abuse, harm or neglect of children or adults.
The bilingual e-learning package gives people a practical understanding of how to keep vulnerable children and adults safe.
While mainly aimed at those working in the public and voluntary sectors, it’s also relevant for those looking for jobs in care and those who may have an interest in learning more about this important topic.
Whatever we do and wherever we live, we all have a duty to recognise signs of abuse, harm or neglect and to take action to protect children or adults who may be vulnerable and at risk.
This means it’s about more than just completing a course or reading online resources, it’s about each of us being able to support and protect the most vulnerable people around us.
You can find out more about this online course and how to access it here.
Hopefully by us all becoming a bit more aware of what’s going on around us and knowing what we can do for those who need our support, we can all help people feel a little less vulnerable this Christmas.