WITH children now back to school and nursery for the first time in six months, Buttle UK has established The COVID-19 Direct Emergency Response for Children and Young People Fund with the support of National Lottery funding.
It is now working in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund to deliver £2 million in National Lottery grants to support vulnerable children and young people adversely impacted by the recent COVID-19 crisis. This National Lottery funding is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s wider COVID-19 emergency response for communities.
Other funders, which include Comic Relief, Masonic Charitable Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation have also made contributions to the fund – meaning that a total of £5m is available, before the end of March 2021, to provide an emergency response to help children living in poverty and who are at risk of being left behind by the pandemic.
Grant giving children’s charity Buttle UK secured this funding during lockdown to help children, who were already very vulnerable and living in crisis, but whose situations have been made even worse by the pandemic and lockdown. The support is designed to help provide a more level playing field for children now they have returned to school, in particular, for those who may have been compromised by digital and food poverty.
With children back in classrooms Buttle UK are calling out to teachers/ nursery workers/ local charities, and any other frontline social care workers, to be vigilant and look out for children and young people in crisis and where problems have deteriorated as a result of the pandemic. The fund will support thousands of children with direct financial assistance up to a maximum of £2,000 and pay for a range of costs and items that help to overcome the crisis, improve their social and emotional wellbeing and increase their capacity to engage in education.
Since the beginning of lockdown Buttle UK have already spent over £1.2m on Chances for Children grants, which has included: £340,000 on IT equipment and internet access; £160,000 on educational books and toys; £132,000 on home appliances and £126,000 on children’s beds.
For many children and young people, the pandemic has only amplified the difficulties that already existed in their lives, increasing their isolation and forcing them to spend many hours in homes that lack the bare essentials and comforts that can easily be taken for granted. The sometimes complex, interrelated issues that they face mean that an increase in pressure on one or more issues impacts others. The crisis has done this on a number of fronts, all at once.
The stark reality of these problems is laid bare in Buttle UK’s State of Child Poverty 2020 report – a unique survey of front line workers carried out at the point lockdown restrictions were lifted. It shows:
- Increased issues with affording the basics, such as food: 57% could not afford essential household items; 47% of families were unable to afford food; 40% of families were unable to afford clothes, rent, gas and electricity, or the things needed to keep a clean home. Over a quarter (27%) of children receiving frontline support did not have access to a proper bed to sleep in. 83% of frontline workers have seen an increase in the need for food banks. This has knock-on effects on mental health and the ability to concentrate and learn.
- Increases in problems for both parents and children’s mental health 84% of frontline workers have seen increases in children and young people’s mental health problem, 24% of respondents found barriers to homeschooling due to parental mental and physical health barriers
- There is also evidence of increases in domestic abuse and neglect. Respondents reported that the three adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) that have been most impacted by COVID-19 were: mental health problems(77%); levels of domestic abuse (67%) and an increase in child neglect (40%)
- In these home environments many children, whatever the efforts of their teachers, will have had little or no education for six months as they have returned to school this September. Indeed, 15% of respondents noted (unprompted) specifically that children have not been homeschooled during the lockdown period.
- These problems have been added to by the lack of IT equipment and internet access 26% of respondents said families found homeschooling challenging because of digital access – main issues are around shared or no computers, no broadband or insufficient internet speed (unable to download coursework), no access to printers, no quiet desk space to learn, and having to do homework through parents’ phones.
CEO of Buttle UK Joseph Howes commented:
“I cannot thank The National Lottery and the other generous donors enough for supporting us in such a major way. All children will have to adjust back into the routine of school, but for those described in Buttle UK’s report the challenges of returning from the isolated, chaotic and possibly even abusive home environments will have created an accumulation of issues. It will be schools, nurseries and other day care institutions who will be the first to identify and deal with this. Our fund is there to help those children who are at risk of been left behind by the pandemic and we would welcome applications from our professional colleagues. Our Chances for Children Grants are there to help in these challenging times.”
Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players and this dedicated partnership, £2 million in National Lottery grants will ensure children and young people receive the support they need to overcome crisis and thrive. We’re proud to be working with Buttle at this critical time, using their local knowledge, dedication and network of contacts to ensure we can get vital funding to where it will make a real difference to young people’s lives.”
Comic Relief has awarded £650,000 to Buttle UK to support vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Emma Stevenson, a Senior Investment Partner at Comic Relief, said:
“Thanks to the amazing generosity of the British public and our partners raising funds for The Big Night In, Comic Relief has been able to fund organisations responding to the COVID-19 crisis. We felt confident in choosing Buttle UK to provide crucial support to some of the most vulnerable children and young people, working with a vast network of schools, nurseries and other charities to make sure children and young people don’t slip through the net, and have the best chance of achieving their potential.”
Mary Paterson, Special Educational Needs Coordinator at St Eanswythe’s School said:
“We have contacted our vulnerable families by phone on a regular basis [during the last 6 months], but are fortunate to have a large pastoral team despite being a small school. We have also had the school open for the duration of the lockdown for keyworker and vulnerable children. Numbers have increased rapidly as families that have lived on the edge, have gone over the edge, and children have needed to get out of the home and have some stability and routine as well as mix with their peers. The School continued with a weekly foodbank, which is being used by about 30 families and some passers-by. We have seen an increase in Encompass Notification’s that are generated by the police due to domestic abuse. These have been from families that normally have been able to cope, with some support. Extended family networks have not been available for respite for parents and children.
“Buttle has been a lifeline to some of our families. In the hot weather, one of the children wore ill-fitting winter boots and another also had unsuitable footwear. Dad was grateful to receive help for footwear and clothes from Buttle. In addition, they received a laptop so the eldest child could do his schoolwork at home.”
To apply for a Buttle UK Chances for Children grant please visit: https://www.buttleuk.org/