We’ve put together resources to help you support the well-being of children and young people at this time.
This can be a difficult and confusing time for children and young people. The social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic mean big changes to our lives. This is especially important for children who may be living in potentially unsafe households, where ‘escape’ to school or a friend’s house is no longer possible.
For all children and young people, not having the freedom to go and see their friends, attend school and visit extended family, may cause stress and anxiety with a lack of control over their own lives that they have not experienced before. This may lead to difficulties that they are not used to dealing with, and they may struggle to adapt to this new way of living.
Children react differently according to their age, how well they understand the situation, their previous experiences and how they usually cope with stress. Reactions may include worrying about their health or the health of their family and friends, fear, avoidance, problems sleeping, or even physical symptoms.
It’s important that we all take care of our mental health and wellbeing during this time and this is just as important for the children and young people we care for. There are lots of things you can do to help, and support is available if you need it.
Explaining coronavirus to children
Here are some online videos that may be useful for explaining coronavirus to children:
1. Coronavirus Explained! (for kids) by Dr Michelle Dickinson This video has been designed for children and explains coronavirus in simple and easy to understand terms
2. Coronavirus explained to kids (by a superhero) Using cartoon animations, a superhero explains what the virus is, how it is spread and how to prevent it from spreading. The video is clear, simple and easy for children to understand
3. The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is a children’s mental health charity. They have produced this video for young people: Supporting young people through disruption. This video provides advice for young people about managing their mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic
4. Unicef Australia have produced a lovely video on how to talk to your children about coronavirus, along with their eight tips to help comfort and protect children.
Guidance for carers and parents
The UK Government has published the following document to support parent and carers during the Covid-19 pandemic:
This includes information on:
- looking after your own mental health
- helping children and young people cope with stress
- how children and young people of different ages may react
- children and young people who are accessing mental health services
- children and young people with learning disabilities
- autistic children and young people
- children or young people with physical health issues
- children and young people who care for others
- money worries
- where to get further support
- support for a parent or carer
The following organisations all offer support you can provide to parents and carers who may be concerned about a child in their care:
1. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have produced resources for parents and carers. These include posters outlining family friendly guidance on how to support your children, free downloadable books explaining coronavirus to read together and ideas for ‘staying at home’ activities.
2. Every Mind Matters has been created by Public Health England, with tips and advice developed with experts and approved by the NHS. They have produced their top tips for looking after children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
4. Mental Health UK have a series of blogs that may be useful to practitioners at this time. Enda Egan, head of their young people's programme Bloom, gives advice to parents and carers to help support open conversations with young people about their worries during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
5. Action for Children have published their advice on how to help and support children and young people who may be having anxious feelings during this time, along with some activities on what you can do to help.
7. With social distancing measures in place, we understand that most support and resources are available online. This can cause concern for parents and carers, trying to keep the children in their care safe. We’ve brought together key information and ideas on how to support children and young people stay safe while online.
Play and outdoor activities
Here are some ideas on what parents and carers can do to help alleviate the boredom some children may experience during this time. Encouraging play and activities at home will help to keep children stimulated in a fun environment and promote their emotional wellbeing.
1. Great Ormond Street Hospital have put together a hub called ‘the power of play’ as a resource for families. Whether your child or young person is battling boredom, pining for the playground or generally unsure about the current situation, play helps children to be more resilient and feel better
3. Twinkl have produced a resource page to access the Joe Wicks ‘5-minute workout’ videos and cards for you to use. These 5-minute videos are easy for your child to follow, to help them keep engaged, physically active and healthy.
Support available in Wales
These organisations have offices in Wales, and may be able to provide local support and signposting in your area:
1. Children’s Commissioner for Wales have an information hub for children, young people, and families in Wales.
2. Place 2Be Wales work on improving children’s mental health. They have published their list of resources, tips and support for parents, carers and schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Mental Health Helpline for Wales have a range of resources and advice online to support children and young people, in addition to a free helpline that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can contact them on: (0800) 132 737.
4. Meic is a helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. You can contact Meic for free on: (0808) 80 23456 or by free text on 84001. They also have an online live chat facility.
Support for children with additional needs
The following organisations have produced some helpful resources for supporting children with additional needs during Covid-19:
1. Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families have hand-picked a selection of free resources for supporting children with additional needs.
This toolkit includes:
- resources to use with vulnerable children or children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
- a resource from Stonewall for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as
- a resource pack for staff wellbeing and practical activities for adults and children to help stay mentally well
2. BBC Bitesize have produced a parents’ SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) toolkit. This is full of resources, activities and support to help you and your family during lockdown.
National support and advice for children and young persons
If you have a child in your care who needs support, the following organisations offer support directly to children and young people that they can access themselves:
1. Young Minds have published their tips, advice and guidance on where you can get support for your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They also provide free 24/7 support across the UK. If you need urgent help, young people can text YM to 85258. All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors. (Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus).
2. Shout provides free, confidential support, 24/7 via text for anyone at crisis anytime, anywhere. Young people can: text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained Crisis Volunteer.
3. ChildLine provides a confidential telephone counselling service for any child with a problem. Children can call 0800 1111 any time for free, or have an online chat with a counsellor from the privacy of their phone or laptop.
4. The Mix provides a free confidential helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem. Young people can call 0808 808 4994 for free – lines are open from 11am to 11pm every day, or they can access the online community, or email The Mix.
5. The Children’s Society have a vast range of information and resources that young people can access on their website relating to Covid-19. If you need to get in touch, you can contact the Children’s Society on: (0300) 303 7000 Their lines are open Monday - Friday from 9am-5pm.
Resources for managers, commissioners and frontline workers
The following organisations all offer resources to managers, commissioners and frontline workers who may have a child in their care they are concerned about:
This includes information on:
- supporting the workforce
- children’s social care
- children’s homes and residential settings
- unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC)
- care leavers
This includes information on:
- how should local authorities prioritise activity during the emergency?
- supporting the Children’s Social Care Workforce
- guidance for maintaining contact
- care and support plans, pathway plans and reviews
3. SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) have produced a quick guide for practitioners working to safeguard children and families during the COVID-19 outbreak, including social workers and those working in social care settings
4. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services England (ADCS) has published Covid-19 guidance and resources for children’s services
5. NSPCC have produced resources for helping practitioners to support children during the COVID-19 pandemic.