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How communication with vulnerable youngsters has improved under lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:48 23 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:48 23 May 2020

Messaging and video call apps are helping children's social care and youth justice workers in Suffolk keep in contact with vulnerable youngsters during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Messaging and video call apps are helping children's social care and youth justice workers in Suffolk keep in contact with vulnerable youngsters during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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A greater reliance on video and messaging apps during the coronavirus lockdown has helped children’s social care teams communicate better with vulnerable youngsters, say care chiefs.

According to Suffolk County Council, children’s social care workers and youth justice workers have had to be more innovative and creative with how they support youngsters.

That has included keeping in touch via Whatsapp and messaging apps, as well as doing video calls, although meetings in person are still happening where needed with PPE or socially distanced walks.

MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for latest updates

Walter McCulloch, assistant director for children’s social care and youth justice, said some of those communication streams could continue after lockdown.

He said: “Fundamental to being a youth justice or social care worker is how you engage with children and young people and their families, and how you build that relationship.

“Social workers who visit children are being quite innovative – using the garden or open spaces to engage with children.

“The overwhelming thing I am hearing at the moment from staff is that the use of video calls and Whatsapp and other things is working really well.

“There have been some of our young people, particularly care leavers, who funnily enough we have been able to be in much more frequent contact with because they are very familiar with using these types of communication techniques, and that has been really helpful because we have been in a stronger position than maybe before.

“That’s not to say we weren’t supporting them, but it has been interesting, and some of the things we are learning are things we need to keep, strengthen, grow and develop because they are turning out to be really good approaches.”

MORE: Daily activities available for special educational needs pupils during lockdown

The team works with vulnerable young people in children’s homes, fostered children and teenagers, and those who still live with their families but need additional support.

According to the council, some had found social distancing difficult, and the additional anxiety had been tricky, but other feedback suggested some found being with their families or foster carers or parents had helped them feel much safer.

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