Published: Friday, 15th May 2020

Medway Council is continuing to support children and families in these challenging times.

The health, wellbeing and safety of all of Medway’s residents is of paramount importance to the council and the dedicated teams working with children have found new and innovative ways to deliver services to Medway’s children and young people.

This includes using technology to keep in contact with vulnerable families and ensure they continue to be supported, for example, social workers are using video conferencing to stay in touch with families. This enables them to have more face-to-face contact with families who need additional support.

Agencies across Medway are working together to ensure children are safeguarded during these challenging times. The council’s Safeguarding and Quality Assurance teams are holding virtual multi-agency meetings to share information and make quick decisions to ensure vulnerable children remain protected. They have also provided fun and educational activities aimed at children of all ages.

The council’s Early Help team, which provides support to children and young people has been supplying resource packs to families who use the Children and Family Hubs in Chatham, Strood, Wayfield and Gillingham. So far they have sent out 646 packs to families which include crayons, book start resources, toiletries, clothes, nappies, food donations, educational resources, healthy recipes and information about the support available as well as activity ideas for all the family to enjoy. The team has also been distributing toys to families in temporary accommodation and most in need of extra support.

Continuing to work with schools

Medway Council is continuing to work closely with schools to ensure they are able to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. The council has also continued to help children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who have education, health and care plans get to school by providing transport, where needed. Medway Council is continuing to work with schools and headteachers on the phased reopening of schools, in line with government advice.

Supporting children in care

Medway Council is continuing to support children in care. The council’s foster carers and connected carers have continued to support and care for children across Medway. They are continuing to ensure children complete their schoolwork and engaging them in a number of activities both in the home and in their gardens. They have also opened their homes to accommodate extra children where necessary. The council’s Leaving Care service is continuing to support young people aged 16 to 25 using social media to keep in touch and offer support during these unusual times. The team has offered advice on a number of topics including accommodation, mental health services and internet access.

Medway Council also provides support to children with disabilities. The Sensory Service, which helps children and young people with hearing and visual impairments, has been supporting families using telephone and video calls, offering advice and signposting children to resources and activities they can carry out at home. The service is also in regular contact with schools and other professionals to ensure the needs of children across Medway are met.

Supporting young people

Support is also being provided for older children during this time. The Medway Youth Service is continuing to keep in touch with young people in a variety of different ways. At the start of lockdown they quickly developed a range of fun online sessions including games, quizzes, and music production, as well as sessions on topics such as keeping positive and healthy lifestyles. The youth team offers at least five sessions every day and have run more than 140 online sessions which have been virtually attended by 386 young people. 

Find out about online youth sessions

Medway Youth Council is continuing to hold online meetings and working groups. They have been especially proactive in encouraging people to stay at home and creating resources to keep young people entertained. On 17 April they organised an online quiz and political panel discussion which raised £788 for the National Emergency Trust. They raised an additional £357.83 for NHS Charities Together by running 5k or cycling 10k in their #runforheroes #cycleforcarers fundraiser.

To celebrate the contributions, achievements and dedication of young people who are helping their families and local communities during lockdown, Medway Youth Council and Medway Youth Service have launched Stay At Home Stars, as a way to recognise the amazing things young people have been doing. Once nominations are received the youth council will feature the young people on their social media channels, @MYC_MEDWAY on Twitter and Medway Youth Council on Facebook, to thank them for their hard work. Nominate a young person.

The council is continuing to provide support for young people who are not in education, employment of training (NEET). The Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) team has been in weekly contact with young people to offer support over the phone and on video calls to offer training opportunities and advice on their future options. Medway Council has contacted all schools in Medway to offer careers support for Year 11 pupils. The team has been calling the young people to offer advice and answer any questions they may have about their next steps in planning for the future. They are working closely with partners and have held online careers sessions for young people. The IAG team’s job search page now has more than 1,800 members and although job vacancies are reducing, the team has focussed their efforts on offering free online courses, to support upskilling. The council is in regular contact with those who previously took part in the Be Yourself programme, a free personal development programme for young people aged 16 to 21 who are not in education or employment, to support their job searches and wellbeing. Find out more.

Incredibily important that we continue to support children and families

Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “We have all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and it is incredibly important that we continue to support children and families across Medway. Our dedicated and hardworking children’s services teams have adapted incredibly quickly and are using technology to ensure they continue to keep in touch with those who need our support. The coronavirus outbreak is a challenging time for all of us and I would like to thank children and families across Medway for adapting so well to the changes we are experiencing at the moment.”

Feedback from Medway children

Medway Council has received the following letters from children who have received the resource packs:

Thank you for all the stuff in the pack. I enjoyed the books because they were very short and people from all ages can read them and one book tells you all about the different animals in the jungle. From A.

Thank you for the pack you sent us. I enjoyed the colouring. My favourite was the fox because it is very detailed and I can use lots of colours and I’m nearly finished with it. G

Thank you for our learning packs. In our family we got four packs for me and my brothers and sister. We read the books to each other and we use the learning to do our own work. Mum was able to set us extra work as we had pages left. It was very kind of you thank you. Hope you stay safe and well. From A.

Thank you for working and giving me a learning pack. I loved reading my book to my little brother who is three years old. Keep smiling and stay safe. From L.

The following message was sent to the team from a foster carer: Just wanted to say a thank you for the pack M got sent through. The Covid time capsule is a big hit and really important for them to know that their IRO is thinking of them at this time.

 

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