Struggling families will need our help even more during this pandemic

(Photo: Unsplash/Dan Burton)

With schools shutting across the UK, we here at TLG (Transforming Lives for Good) have adapted our programmes to ensure that children continue to receive the support they need throughout this time.

In a time of national crisis, we are incredibly concerned for the children and families who were already struggling. We know many of you will share those concerns.

Throughout the measures being put in place to strive to protect the health and safety of the population, we want to ensure that we all remember the children: children whose parents were already on the poverty line and facing food insecurity; children who struggled with their education and needed one-to-one input to cope; children whose home lives were already unsettled and whose lives were already filled with anxiety.

Through TLG's 21 years of supporting children across the UK, we have always believed in finding ways to give children hope that goes beyond their circumstances. This will not stop in the current climate. Indeed, the contact we have with the children is more vital now than ever before.

With that in mind, we have over the last few days had to work quickly to adapt our programmes to enable as much contact with those we support, while adhering to the national measures put in place. Our three programmes have all been modified so that we will be able to continue supporting vulnerable children and families at this time.

Our TLG Education Centres offer intensive support for those that have been excluded from school. One of the benefits of our Ofsted-inspected schools is the high student-to-teacher ratio which enables us to provide tailored support.

Now that schools have closed, we will be continuing one-to-one contact and teaching via video link so that we can continue to support both students' learning and their emotional wellbeing.

We've also had to make changes to our TLG Early Intervention programme, which provides schools with volunteer coaches offering one-to-one help as a mentor to a child for a full school year.

With schools closing, it is important that we maintain contact with the children and their families over this time, especially when home life could be very challenging for so many. So, wherever possible, we will be equipping our coaches to keep in weekly contact with parents remotely through telephone and video calls.

We are also designing a package of resources and activities that the child can complete with their family, designed to support their wellbeing at this difficult time.

Another branch of our work that has been affected by the pandemic is our TLG Make Lunch clubs, which provide food to children on Free School Meals who would otherwise go hungry during the holidays.

In light of all the new restrictions around coronavirus, the existing format of our TLG Make Lunch Clubs will not be appropriate over the Easter holidays, and so the families who attend these clubs will need support more than ever. With this in mind, we are looking to work with churches to provide emergency care parcels to children and their families.

We have hundreds of faithful churches who partner with us across the UK - churches who are now urgently stepping up to reach over 10,000 people with emergency care packages that not only meet the families' practical needs, but also look out for their emotional and mental wellbeing during this difficult time.

- The emergency care packages include:
- Food supplies for a family of four for three days
- Essential household items such as soap and toiletries
- Activities and creative resources for children while they are off school
- Information on other support they can access
- Message of hope (please keep an eye on our social media or sign up to our mailing list to find out how you can write your own)

We need to raise £25,000 as quickly as possible to enable a rapid response to children who need it most, so will you join us and donate what you can today to help give a box full of hope to a family? We know this is an anxious time for us all, but let us all join together to help those who need our support the most.

During this time of change, we have been encouraged by the messages and prayers we have been receiving. We have been reminded of the visible heart for children our partner churches have, as they've worked with us to put plans in place to make sure the children in their communities are still supported.

Right now, there will be children across the UK wondering if their parents will be able to put food on the table, worried about what will happen to their education and feeling isolated, unable to see their friends. We know that families won't just have practical needs in this crisis, and that anything we can do to support the emotional and mental health side is crucial. Working alongside our partner churches, we will still be there for these children and their families, whatever the circumstances.

We hope you will join us to ensure that struggling children are remembered in every situation and especially during this challenging coronavirus outbreak.

Beth Prescott is Policy Lead at TLG. Keep up with TLG's work via its website, Facebook and Twitter, where it will be adding more information over the coming days and weeks about how people can support children during this time.