During the first COVID-19 lockdown demand for our services quadrupled. Early indications in this lockdown are that this is only going to grow.
The pandemic has exacerbated issues that were prevalent in society, such as poverty, childhood hunger, and mental health – just some of the issues that prevent disadvantaged children from achieving their full potential in education. Where they were just about being managed before, keeping them under control is proving to be an enormous challenge in this pandemic.
This is why our support is more important than ever before.
23% of the UK population now lives in poverty
2020 has seen the number of people in the UK living in poverty reach 23% of the population according to analysis published by the Legatum Institute.
The issues that our Practitioners are grappling with day in, day out are increasing. We already saw a lot of families with more than two challenging issues that SHS would help to address, now we’re seeing these numbers growing.
We have supported the extension of what the government deemed “vulnerable”. In the first lockdown children lost the protective factor that school provides, and there were too many vulnerable children at home. Being at school, being seen and supported then would have provided more support for them, and helped to alleviate home issues.
Anecdotally schools are seeing a 25 to 30% increase in children at school meeting the UK government’s “vulnerable” criteria. We believe that this jump in numbers doesn’t take into account those children without devices who are able to go to school.
What are we doing to help?
Along with the daily challenges they currently face, the parents we work with are understandably very anxious at the moment. We are providing support to them to help them deal with any anxieties they face including when their children are going back to school.
We have been doing lots of work around bridging the digital divide for children with IT equipment or internet connection. We responded to the very urgent need earlier in the pandemic, and were instrumental in getting national coverage to highlight digital poverty as an issue. We welcome the news that the government has bought 300,000 laptops for disadvantaged pupils – which we campaigned for alongside Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.
We will monitor the roll out of government laptops and the numbers of children returning to school. We want to see whether the devices being received consider the multiple needs of one family.
We are continuing our initiative with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to help provide laptops to the most in need. We still have 50 devices that we are in the process of distributing to identified families. Read about Star, one of the 200 children we’ve supplied desktop kits to since last year.
If needs are not met by the government, we will be signposting and supporting parents to access IT equipment and data from other organisations, unless there is an urgent requirement in which case Practitioners can access the SHS Welfare Fund.
Our day-to-day operations
We will continue with our current day-to-day operations that have been in place since March. Head office staff are working from home – with meetings being held virtually. Practitioners are continuing to carry out doorstep visits to help with face-to-face support, and are on school rotas (when positioned in a school).
How can you help?
Demand for SHS has never been more needed. If you want to help us, you can donate today and help us continue to be there for the vulnerable children and families we support on a daily basis.
Alternatively contact us to find out more about how your support could ensure children are able to access education to enable them to achieve their potential.