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Throughout the pandemic, NSPCC children’s service practitioners have adapted how they visit, meet and speak to children and young people across the city to ensure social distancing is maintained, and keep everyone as safe as possible.
NSPCC children’s services team manager Laura Harvey has been involved in welcoming young people back through the centre’s doors since it reopened at the end of August and said the environment was different but still familiar and comfortable.
Laura said: “We’re conscious that because of all the new rules some of the children are coming back to the centre and have found it very different, but our staff have been preparing them, asking them what they expected, and letting them know how it would look when they came back in.
“We’re only using the biggest rooms where we’ve been able to measure out two metres to ensure social distancing. There’s a one-way system in the building to make sure people aren’t crossing over, and the design of the building – it’s basically a loop – means that’s quite easy to adhere to.”
As well as hand gel, cleaning products and signs on how to stay safe being displayed around the centre, space has been put aside on a wall for visitors to leave comments on how they found the return to the centre.
Laura said: “They have all said they feel really safe, and didn’t feel anything needed to be done differently, which has been really positive.
“One young person said it initially felt weird for the practitioner to be sat on the other side of the room, but was very respectful of that as well. Our practitioners have had to work really hard in terms of ‘how do we do that direct work’, where they would usually sit alongside that child, but it’s been really positive so far.”
NSPCC workers in Liverpool and across the country carried out home visits until local restrictions were introduced, but have also worked with children and carers to find out what works best for them. Sessions have taken place virtually over the phone or Zoom, and some visits now take place – following risk assessments – at a child’s school, if that’s best for them.
Laura said: “It’s been really positive. I think for the children who haven’t wanted to participate in virtual sessions, they have really welcomed the centre being back open again and it’s been really well received.
“We’ve had to try to be really creative about where we can see children safely and there’s been a lot of risk assessments taking place. Schools are on board to help out with remote visits, but we always have those discussions with children and carers first. Peoples’ feelings change about it and everyone has their own personal experience on how this is affecting them so all we can do is remind both children and staff that they have to feel safe and protected and comfortable as possible.”
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As the uncertainty continues throughout the pandemic, Laura said children and families across Merseyside and the rest of the UK can be assured the NSPCC will still be there on the frontline for children.
Laura said: “Some of the new ways of working might be held on to going forward because sometimes virtual works as a way to get to know people.
“We work around what feels more comfortable for them, because by developing that relationship with young people we can build up to seeing them face to face, as not everyone does want to do that from the off. The important thing is we keep children and young people as safe as possible, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
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