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Source: Wales – City of Newport

Posted on Friday 29th May 2020

The coronavirus crisis is having a huge impact on children across Wales, but for some it could mean falling even further behind in their growth and development.

Families already struggling on low incomes before the crisis are hit hardest, and many do not have the tools, resources and skills to adequately support their child’s learning and development at home.

As part of Save the Children’s response the charity has been working with community partners across the UK to try and help families through the crisis.

The Early Learning Communities programme in Bettws, one of the most deprived areas in Wales, aims to build on the evidence base and knowledge of local services and organisations.  Over the past year Save the Children has been working closely with local primary schools, parents, Newport City Council, Welsh Government, health visitors, police, young offenders groups and housing associations in Newport to improve early learning outcomes for children in the area.

During the coronavirus crisis the Early Learning Community programme is helping to provide basic essentials to families in Bettws such as food packages, early learning resources containing toys and books, hygiene and cleaning kits, baby bundles and provision for digital access. 

The items in the packs have been funded by the Moondance Foundation with the procuring and delivering of the packs to families supported by Newport City Council along with the staff of Monnow Primary school, Millbrook Primary School, Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael, Dragons, Bettws Food bank, Pobl and Newport City Homes housing associations. Gifts in kind have also been donated by Book Trust, Designed to Smile The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Care4humanity. Save the Children is also grateful to the People’s Postcode Lottery for their long-standing support of our community work in Wales.

Rhiannon Burgham, teacher at Monnow Primary School who has been helping to co-ordinate the response operation in Bettws said: “There is a real community feel in Bettws and everyone helps each other out. The coronavirus has had a huge impact on our families with lots living in small flats with no access to the outdoors. Some of our families are self-isolating and if they are single parents they face difficulties accessing food as they can’t get to the shops. It’s also difficult to keep children entertained and motivated during lockdown and keep up a level of home schooling.  The support packs that we have been able to offer are going to make a huge difference to a lot of our families.”

Councillor David Mayer, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for community and resources, added: “We were pleased to be part of the pioneering Early Learning Communities programme that brings together a range of organisations to focus on improving children’s lives. This coordinated approach has meant we have all been able to work together to distribute essential supplies to families during these unprecedented times. I would like to thank all those involved in providing this support which was undoubtedly a lifeline to some.”

Save the Children is also responding during the crisis with an Emergency Grants Programme to help provide families across the UK with household essential items such as highchairs, beds and books, minimise further financial pressure on families and ensure continuity to children’s early learning. The charity has also developed resource packs pull of information, and fun activities that families can do together at home and to help parents and children talk about their feelings at this difficult time.

 Melanie Simmonds, Head of Save the Children in Wales said: “The early years are a crucial time in a child’s life. Before this crisis, there was a significant gap in attainment between children in poverty and their peers in the early years. Without clear interventions, we anticipate this gap to widen as a result of the pandemic, threatening the life chances of a generation. We must ensure that children, parents and early years services have the support they need throughout this time and during the months of recovery to follow.

“Whether it’s national government, local councils, community groups or charities, we can all do our bit to help the most vulnerable families get through this difficult time.”

For further information on how Save the Children is helping families in the UK during the coronavirus crisis visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk

MIL OSI United Kingdom