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New campaign launched to support parents who are struggling during the covid-19 pandemic

A new campaign has been launched to support parents who are struggling with the demands of babies and young children during the covid pandemic.

Lockdown and social distancing rules mean many agencies whose job it is to care for, and provide back-up to families in need, are relying on parents or their families to come forward for help. At the same time, wider family members, friends and community support is also limited.

The worry is that this leaves mums and dads struggling alone and could lead to issues such as mental health, isolation and in extreme cases, harm to babies and children.

Health and social care teams have joined forces with other key agencies in Berkshire West to send a clear message to parents that it’s OK to access vital help or support, to deal with the stress and anxiety of a crying baby or difficult toddler, including help from their network of family, friends and neighbours, where it is safe to do so.

A range of key messages are now being publicised on targeted social media platforms to reassure parents that they are not alone in their struggles and to reassure others that they can still go to the aid of a family if they are concerned.

The messages (attached), which have been compiled by NHS, local authority and police partners, are:

  • Coping with a crying baby or young child is incredibly hard and tiring, especially if you are on your own or you have other children as well.
  • Are you at the end of your tether? If being a mum or dad is feeling overwhelming then please ask for help.
  • If you need support from someone close to you that you would usually ask for help then go ahead and ask for it, unless they are vulnerable themselves or shielding.
  • If you are able to reach out to provide support to a parent, whether they be a relative or a friend, please do so
  • If you feel you are seriously at risk, or you’re worried about someone, you must act now. This might mean you may have to break social distancing measures, but the guidance from the government wants you to keep you and your family safe
  • If you need support from your GP, health visitor or midwife then please contact them
  • There are organisations in your community that will help if that would be better for you

Liz Stead, Head of Safeguarding Children for Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “It’s hard enough at the best of times to be at home looking after a baby or small child. Whilst it can be a very rewarding time, young children can be quite demanding meaning mums and dads are often sleep deprived and worried they’re not doing things right. Add to this the anxiety many people have about their health and that of their loved ones, concerns about jobs, finances, bills etc and it makes it a very stressful time.

“Often there’s a network of support from family, friends and neighbours – people who can come in and give the parents a bit of rest and respite. And there’s usually a lot of playgroups and other baby-focused community sessions going on where parents can get together and support each other. But of course, lockdown and social distancing has put a stop to all that,” she said.

“Added to this, many of the professionals whose job it is to spot struggling families are having to work in different ways and that personal, face to face contact is often not possible. But it is this sort of interaction which is so valuable in keeping an eye on both parents and children.”

“Our message is that the safety and wellbeing of babies and young children is paramount and people must do all they can to step in and help. The guidelines on social distancing are quite clear on this – if someone is at risk of abuse, violence or neglect they must seek help. And if someone is worried they are still allowed to get involved,” she added.

Where to get help

  • Contact your GP or NHS 111

  • Midwifery services at Royal Berkshire Hospital
    Phone: 0118 322 8964 or 0118 322 8059

  • Health Visiting
    Health visitors offer support and practical advice on many aspects of child development as well as family. Further information is available here

    The health visiting duty line is available from 9am-4.30pm to offer health advice relating to your baby or child. Please use the number for your area below:

  • Local authority social care
    For all immediate concerns please contact:
    Wokingham: WBC Referral and Assessment Team (Children's Safeguarding and Social Care Team) on telephone 0118 908 8002 or by email: triage@wokingham.gov.uk.
    For concerns out of hours contact the Emergency Duty Team: Phone: 01344 786 543
    Further information here.

    Reading: The Children's Single Point of Access is how to raise a concern about a child (pre-birth to 18 years old) in Reading, including safeguarding and child protection. It is a single point of contact for all early help and children’s social care services, including disabled children. There are 3 ways to contact the team:
    • Using a web form, which is the most secure and effective way of requesting help for a child. The form can be found at: CSPOA Referral Form
    • Calling the team on 0118 937 3641
    • Emailing the team on CSPOA@brighterfuturesforchildren.org
      The Children's Single Point of Access is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). Outside these hours, contact the Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543
    • Further information here.

West Berkshire: Please contact Contact Advice Assessment Service (CAAS) within working hours on 01635 503090 for a member of staff to deal with your concern, alternatively email child@westberks.gov.uk
If there is an emergency safeguarding concern, the Emergency Duty Service is available when the West Berkshire Council offices are closed . This includes evenings, 24 hours on weekends and bank holidays. Please contact EDT by telephone 01344 786543 or email edt@bracknell-forest.gov.uk
Further information is available here.

 

There is lots more useful information and advise on the Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership website: berkshirewestsafeguardingchildrenpartnership.org.uk

If you need medical help and are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 for help and advice. They are available 24 hours a day.