Our Chief Executive, Jaine Stannard, summarises what a hugely demanding year 2020 has been for School-Home Support. She also gives a vision for what 2021 will look like…
2020 has been a really challenging year for the families we work with. While the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities that people in this country have been facing for years, it has also exacerbated these inequalities.
Demand for our services at SHS have quadrupled since the first lockdown was announced in March. Our team have had to work harder than ever to ensure that children can continue to learn. Our team, who we successfully petitioned the government to classify as key workers, provided personalised support to more than 1,150 children & families as part of our COVID-19 response.
We also did a huge amount of work to ensure that families living in digital poverty (without access to laptops or internet) got connected so they could continue to learn, despite schools being closed. In the first week of lockdown alone we identified 130 families in support. To date we’ve supported over 200 families, and more equipment is being sent out every week. This was all achieved thanks to our partnership with the Bloomfield Trust, the Pears Foundation, the Raspberry Pi Foundation and others.
One particular family has been on my mind in 2020 is Majesty and her daughter Cynthia. When SHS first met them they were living in poor and unsafe housing, in fear of domestic abuse with Cynthia often not attending school. Due to the support delivered by Julie, our fantastic Practitioner, this is no longer the case. After achieving high school attendance this term, Cynthia and her mum will be spending their first Christmas in their new accommodation safe, happy, resilient and looking forward to a very positive 2021.
Our Impact Report highlights some of the incredible achievements we’ve had this year. You can read it here.
A forward look at 2021
A few days ago, the National Education Union (NEU) called on the government to delay the school return in January by two weeks. Protecting children must come first – but we must ensure that measures are in place to enable the most vulnerable children to continue to access their education.
The criteria used to categorise families as “vulnerable” last time was too narrow. We want this to be widened to include those children where there are indicators of emerging difficulties or additional needs. These needs can include anything that affects the health, development, wellbeing and safety of children and young people, for example: complex needs that the family cannot deal with, or meet on their own.
If the term is delayed by two weeks, we are also calling on the government to provide clear and robust direction to schools, and to ensure that school staff are protected as much as is possible also.
Thank you to our supporters
While 2020 may have been the most challenging year we’ve ever faced at SHS, we’ve been able to help so many families (an additional 1,701 families up until September – very likely many more up until December) because of our incredible supporters. As you well know, the work we do transforms the lives of vulnerable children, and helps to build brighter futures. Thank you for your support, and I wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year!