Coronavirus from the charity front line: “The young people we support don’t have other family to go to.”

Posted by / Friday 27 March 2020 / Young people

As coronavirus continues to impact day-to-day lives, we spoke to Children’s Service Manager Barbara Keenan about how her staff are adapting to meet the needs of vulnerable people.

For Action for Children’s residential care service in Ayrshire, Scotland, coronavirus poses some unique challenges. The project supports four young people with a range of complex needs – and the ongoing nature of the care is crucial.

The Intensive Supervised Structured Care Project, one of three projects falling under Barbara Keenan’s remit, delivers offence-focused intervention, education and therapeutic support. As the threat from coronavirus intensifies, Barbara has seen her staff adapting to ensure the young people are still getting the support they need.

“All the staff have really stepped up to meet the challenge we face, put down their own personal things, and rolled their sleeves up,” she says. “There’s a realisation that the young people come first.”

Steps are being taken to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the young people at the project. Shift patterns have been amended to make sure that cover is in place. Staff from the nearby Upper Nithsdale Family Service and the East Ayrshire Lisalanna Short Breaks Service for children with disabilities are also volunteering their time. 

“This is the young people’s home - we have to be there for them,” says Barbara. “We’re their family and we’re responding as any family would. They’re anxious, as things are changing constantly. There’s an element of seeking reassurance but also an understanding that this will change and we’ll get through it. There’s a really strong team here who have worked at ISCC for a long time.”

Barbara notes that having a strong and experienced team – with more than 150 years combined at the project – makes all the difference in a crisis. “The young people we support don’t have other family to go to. We need to be that family, no matter how hard it gets. If push comes to shove and the staff team have to move into the service short term, that’s what we’ll do. There’s only so much each person can do, but the whole team is doing everything they can.”

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