Children's charity Barnardos experienced a 21 per cent increase in referrals to intensive family support services, and a further 38 per cent increase in waiting lists, in 2020.
Despite not being in a position to run many school based programmes due to the closure of schools, Barnardos worked with 17,918 children and families last year.
According to director of children’s services, Siobhan Greene, “last year was one that we will not forget. Families and children needed more support, they stayed with us longer, and many families that we had previously worked with returned. Overall, we experienced a high demand on our services due to the impact of Covid. This demand has not lessened, as we start to see the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children and families that we work with”.
Ms Greene added: “Overnight we had to re-assess how we could provide the best possible remote services. While everything shutdown, the support and protection that children needed did not disappear, it actually increased. Many parents needed more support than before, so it was vital that we were able to keep our services running throughout and ensure that we were there for families and children during these difficult times.”
During the lockdown in 2020, Barnardos delivered over 6,300 activity packs to children, nearly 6,500 food parcels to familes and nearly 10,000 hot meals to families.