Children 1st has been a lifeline for families in Moray

Children 1st has been a lifeline for families in Moray during the coronavirus pandemic.

The local branch of Children 1st, based in Northfield Terrace in Elgin, has provided food vouchers, cooked meals, given money advice and continued to be there through video calls to help local children and families during lockdown.

As restrictions eased, the charity, which assists families and children who have been affected by trauma or adverse childhood experiences, organised a range of summer holiday activities including beach days for families who have children with additional support needs.

This has all been possible thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have raised over £6.9 million for Children 1st over the last 12 years.  Mandy Morrison, from the Children 1st Moray service, says that they have been able to continue a high level of support for families through coronavirus.

She said: “Right now, the support is giving families the lifeline they need to keep their children safe.
“As other sources of support struggle, Children 1st is continuing to be there for children and families in Moray, struggling with unprecedented levels of distress and loneliness. We would particularly like to thank players of the People’s Postcode Lottery whose support has made such a difference locally.”

Despite lockdown, the team at Children 1st Moray continued to be there for children and families by offering support online, over-the-phone and through socially distanced deliveries of essential items.

Mandy added: “The Moray service continued to directly link families through our Children 1st Parentline money advice specialists and by providing food vouchers, cooked meals and essential items for families in need. 
“Every family received regular calls from a member of staff. 
“We changed how we delivered support to include video call sessions which ranged from young people doing online cooking sessions to more intensive support.”

One Moray family, who have been suffering financial hardship, say the charity has been a lifeline for them during lockdown by providing them with a food parcel and cooked meals.

The family, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Receiving the food parcel from Children 1st made a big difference as we were getting to the point where we had nothing in the cupboard.”

When the lockdown restrictions eased slightly, the team also offered socially distanced walks and garden sessions to the young people they support who have been struggling with their mental wellbeing. 

Mandy said: “As time has passed, we’ve found that local young people were facing increasing challenges with their emotional wellbeing”. 

“This has been due to a variety of factors including strained family relations, financial pressures on families and a lack of structure and routine due to not travelling to school and the absence of relationships which can act as protective factors within school.”

To ease the pressure off families over the summer, Children 1st Moray planned a variety of activities for the children they support including an enhanced transition programme to support those children who have moved from P7 to S1.

Mandy said: “The programme will give an opportunity for children to build friendships, focus on the emotional impact of moving to high school and helpful ways to resolve their worries.”

Throughout the summer, the service also organised beach days for a small number of families who have children with additional support needs.

Mandy explained: “The families will meet at the beach to explore rockpools and play team games, we’ll provide individual packed lunches for everyone. 
 “The aim of the days is to promote positive relationships and build quality time for families.”

Children 1st Moray also teamed up with the charity Earthtime to provide bushcraft activities.

Mandy added: “Over the summer, we will continue to provide whole family support for those children and families who may need more support to cope.”

Lisa Belletty, programmes advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: ‘I’m so pleased that players of People’s Postcode Lottery continue to support the work of Children 1st and are enabling the team to be there for children and families across Scotland at this challenging time. The fantastic range of holiday activities in Moray will make a big difference this summer for all who attend them during this time of transition."