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Covid Fund launched by charity to support vulnerable children

Buttle UK has established The COVID-19 Direct Emergency Response for Children and Young People Fund to support vulnerable children and young people adversely impacted by the recent COVID-19 crisis.

The charity 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. The National Lottery funding is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s wider COVID-19 emergency response for communities.

Other funders, including 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.

CEO of Buttle UK Joseph Howes said: “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 and 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 have been left behind and we would welcome applications from our professional colleagues. Our Chances for Children Grants are there to help in these challenging times.”

For many children and young people, the pandemic has exacerbated 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. The sometimes complex, interrelated issues that they face mean that an increase in pressure on one or more issues impacts others.

Buttle UK’s State of Child Poverty 2020 report which includes results from a survey of front line workers carried out at the point lockdown restrictions were lifted found:

Increased issues with affording the basics

- 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 need for foodbanks.

Increased mental health problems in parents and children

- 84% of frontline workers have seen increases in children and young people’s mental health problems

- 24% of respondents found barriers to home schooling due to parental mental and physical health barriers

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%)

- an increase in child neglect (40%)

Education

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.

- 15% of respondents noted (unprompted) specifically that children have not been home schooled during the lockdown period.

- 26% of respondents said families found home schooling challenging because of digital access

- The main issues highlighted were 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.

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.

However, with the help of The National Lottery and other funders, Buttle UK is now calling out to frontline workers to make applications of £2K per family for children in crisis to help level the playing field as the pandemic continues. Frontline workers are being urged 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 crisis, improve their social and emotional wellbeing and increase their capacity to engage in education.

Comic Relief has awarded £650,000 to Buttle UK to support vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Emma Stevenson, 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.”

The State of Child Poverty report

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