Supporting families through a second lockdown

Children 1st Director of Children and Family Services, Linda Jardine, reflects on what we have learned over the past year and how we are continuing to support children and families across Scotland.

As we are once again moved into a country wide lockdown, our resolve at Children 1st to play our fullest part in being there for Scotland’s families, our colleagues and our volunteers is as strong as ever.

As national leaders made their real concerns apparent and the lockdown was announced, the voices of families were ringing in my ears. Many families told us that Children 1st was a lifeline for them during the first lockdown, and I knew that we must do whatever it takes to be there for families within the new restrictions.

I am determined and reassured by the fact that we have come through this before, very strongly, by adhering to the rules, listening to children, families and our workforce, and responding creatively and flexibly to their changing needs.

Throughout the last year, we have never stopped talking with families – to help us understand exactly what they need, what was most beneficial during lockdown and what helped as we emerged into the partial lockdowns of the past few months. We now understand what families most need, and how and where that support is best given. 

Many families told us that the most important thing was knowing we were there.  We never closed or reduced our contact with families – having daily contact with many of the families we work alongside. Knowing there was someone there who they could just talk to about their fears and concerns for their mental wellbeing, physical health, financial worries, for their children’s schooling as well as just making sense of track and trace and rules around self isolating.

So many families told us it eased their distress, reduced their sense of isolation and they took great comfort in knowing there was someone who would be there, check in with them, listen to them and sit quietly with them in their times of despair and angst. Many parents told us this emotional support was a lifeline and they felt such relief when we were also able to help with their money worries to address the real fear that they would not be able to provide the basic items for their children. We routinely provided practical items to support families and basic provisions to lighten their load and reduce their sense of overwhelm.

My message to families during this lockdown is that we are very much open, we are here for you and we will continue to be here through this challenging time. We know that many of you will be feeling distressed at the thought of winter in lockdown, and particularly worried about having to provide home schooling. We know many parents and children are really struggling with this, worried about their own mental wellbeing, and how they will cope. We are here to offer emotional and practical support.

I am similarly determined to connect with our teams across the organisation. Throughout COVID they have repeatedly told us that despite the challenge the virus has presented they feel we are connected as an organisation and have provided the reassurance they need to balance their professional roles with their own needs and family lives. As we continue to support children and families, we will pay real regard to the wellbeing of our own employees. I know they will be keen to go and see families face to face, but we must do what we can to keep everyone safe and prevent transmission of the virus. We can't go out and visit families in the way that we would want to, but where it is vital, we will risk assess and put the measures in place to keep everyone safe.  We will build relationships with children and families from afar, through all the ways that digital allows and we will continue to support families through doorstep drop offs and by meeting a parent and children outside.

We will keep doing whatever it takes to keep families safe, together, resourced and strong.