Donna’s partner of nine years and the father of her children left her just before Christmas in 2019. Not only that, but he cleared out their joint bank account and left the family with absolutely nothing.
When school reopened after the holidays, the children were absent. They were not seen. This is when our School-Home Support key worker Kass conducted a home visit to find out what was going on, and ensure the children were safe. Upon arriving, Donna was very upset. “She told me that she had no support and nowhere to turn,” Kass said.
The problems that the family were facing
The family had no money. They were all hungry. They didn’t have a washing machine, and Donna’s hands were bleeding from washing all their clothes by hand. Donna began to open up to Kass about her ex partner, who was controlling and abusive. He still would come over to the house, unannounced, and physically and mentally abuse her. She wanted to contact the police but was worried it would only make the problem worse.
Working with Donna to get her back on her feet
“The first thing I did was to tell her what huge step she’d taken by talking to someone,” Kass explained. “I told her that there were lots of people and organisations who could help her get back on her feet.”
After that, Kass went out and made sure that the children’s immediate care needs were met and that the family had enough food, warm clothes, and that they could get a washing machine.
While working with the family, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Kass, along with our other key workers across the country, had to adapt her work to ensure that we were still seeing the family, but also keeping them safe. She supported Donna’s referrals to social care and a domestic abuse charity. In addition, she encouraged Donna to make a solicitor appointment, so that she could make a non-molestation order against her partner. Donna also felt that the only way she could be safe was if she and the family moved to another area – so she is now working with her local council’s housing officer to find properties that work for the family.
The family’s essential needs are now being met – and work is still ongoing to get them relocated. “I was happy to tell my story because I want someone else who is going through what I went through to know that there are people out there who can help,” Donna said.
Making sure children are seen, fed, warm and ready to learn
School is a safe space for so many children. With schools shut due to the latest COVID-19 lockdown, this means children like Donna’s are not being seen. At SHS this worries us more than ever before. These children are in real danger – and not able to access a few hours of sanctuary in their schools.
Children who are growing up in poverty deserve a fair chance to build a better life after this pandemic – and the key to doing this is through being able to learn.