The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on vulnerable families across Torbay has prompted a flexible approach to the support networks.

Support organisation South West Family Values contacted more than 400 families in April and May, engaging in more than 1,000 phone calls, video consultations, and many more supportive texts and email interactions, as well as delivering food parcels and activity packs to vulnerable youngsters.

The organisation has worked in partnership with local schools, children’s services and public health to ensure children’s and families are supported on a range of issues during this uncertain period, ranging from parenting, mental health problems and obtaining food supplies.

“It was important for us to quickly adapt the way we work once lockdown became a reality,” said Craig Brennan-Osment, director at South West Family Values.

“From working within schools and visiting homes prior to Covid, we have changed our support services to the use of Zoom, telephone and email contact.

“It has enabled us to respond to a very different need for families, such as food parcels, advising parents on home-schooling and the mental health issues that have arisen from isolation.

“We’ve had a lot of families self-isolating due to health conditions and, in partnership with schools, we’ve been working hard to respond in providing them with essential goods. Sadly, there has also been an increase of domestic violence and self-harm.

“The next challenges ahead for us will probably come after the summer holidays, as we can foresee a lot of hidden issues arising over this period.

“Families at risk may resurface in numbers as schools go back, bringing a potential tidal wave of mental health issues in September.

“There will be understandable anxiety for a lot of children returning to school after such a long break and that is why we are here, to provide support and guidance.”

To find out more and for info on wider support available to local families, log on to www.southwestfamilyvalues.org.uk, the Family Information Service www.fis.torbay.gov.uk or the NHS 0-19 service www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk/services/health-visiting-and-school-nursing/your-0-19-team/