Supporting charity through change

Guest blogger Lisa Belletty, Health and Wellbeing Programmes Advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery, writes about the way Children 1st has adapted through the coronavirus crisis and how our combined values allow us to give hope to more children and families.

Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims.

UN Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on children (April 2020)

In 2018, People’s Postcode Lottery celebrated a decade of working alongside Children 1st. It’s not often enough as a funder that you have the privilege to see a charity grow and develop over such a long period, using the flexibility of long-term funding in innovative ways to change lives.

From my work with the charity over the last three years, I have seen the team there respond to the needs of families with empathy and compassion amidst the changing world around us, always placing the voice, needs and hopes of the child at the heart of what they do.

A time of change

Much has changed over the last twelve years since we started to work with Children 1st, and no change has been so rapid as in recent months, when communities across the world have faced the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

We’ve seen small changes, which mean words like social distancing and lockdown have become part of our everyday conversation. We’ve also seen big changes, like the closing of schools and nurseries, not being able to see friends and family, more of us relying on foodbanks than ever and worries about health, job security and the future. 

It is a tough time to be an older person. It is a tough time to be a parent or carer. It is a tough time to be a child or young person.

It is as inspiring as it is reassuring to hear from charities like Children 1st about the way they are supporting families against this backdrop of unprecedented change. The charity has thought creatively about family support, which would ordinarily take place face-to-face, by offering calls, texts and emails and sending wellbeing parcels for families. These packages brighten lockdown through practical gifts for creative play, essential cleaning or food items and much needed devices to enable children to learn at home.

Demand for the services Children 1st offer has risen sharply as families face greater financial and personal challenges. For example, the Money Advice Service, which supports and empowers families to make informed decisions around their finances, is now being offered Scotland-wide in response to the money worries families across the country are facing.

A source of hope

Yet, despite these adaptations, it was clear to see from watching Mary, Marion, Lisa and Leana speak last Tuesday that the values and approach of Children 1st have remained uncompromised. The charity retains its commitment to bringing families together, focusing on the strengths of the individual and putting themselves in the shoes of those they work with, free of judgement. It takes wisdom and patience to know that real change takes time, so we must work at the pace that families set for themselves.

A policy brief released by the UN in April outlines the potential impact of COVID-19 on children. It indicates that the effects of the pandemic, including increased poverty, the learning crisis and risks to children, will be more harmful for those who were already in challenging circumstances. They advise that to mitigate this, we must continue to provide child-centred services and provide practical support to parents and caregivers.

Children 1st are a source of hope for families in Scotland when it comes to taking this forward and starting the nation’s journey towards recovery from coronavirus – this was evident from the Q&A session.

Just as we believe that charities are the experts of themselves, and this informs our flexible long-term funding approach, Children 1st believes that children and families are the experts of themselves. Like Marion, who uses the Family Group Decision Making model with families, I too have hope for families, thanks to the courage and commitment of Children 1st. Please, help them reach more children by donating today at children1st.org.uk/appeal

 

A note from Children 1st 

We just want to say a huge thank you to People's Postcode Lottery and all the brilliant players who have supported thousands of children and families across Scotland. The long-term, flexible funding approach that Lisa describes has been vital - particularly during this time when we have had to change and adapt so quickly. Thanks to players' incredible support, this partnership has helped us continue to provide emotional and practical help and support to families throughout the coronavirus crisis.