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As families across Dorset come to terms with all the uncertainties of a ‘new normal’ during lockdown, Action for Children, the country’s leading children’s charity, is seeking to give parents and children somewhere to turn for help and advice.

Supported by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, the new service – parents.actionforchildren.org.uk – is a one stop shop for parents and caregivers with advice, support and educational and play materials.

The site offers any parent of a 0–19-year-old one-to-one support from an experienced parenting coach through a new online chat service, Talk. Parents are offered free, expert advice on a range of issues including what to do if your child isn’t sleeping or eating, problems with behaviour at home, and mental health.

Since launching, concerned parents have flocked to the service with a range of queries. One mum reached out to the service for support with life in lockdown: ‘I need some help and advice. My little boy is nearly three and we are not coping well in this situation. He has far too much energy and my husband and I cannot cope. I don’t know what to do.’

For some parents, the service has given them someone to talk to about their own anxieties surrounding the pandemic. ‘Every time I feel like I’m doing OK my mental health seems to take another dip. I’m looking after my two-year-old but I’m running out of ideas and getting cabin fever. I’m really anxious about the coronavirus – it’s petrifying how this virus is taking people and it seems like no one is safe. I’m worried it will take my friends and family,” says one parent.

John Egan, National Director of England at Action for Children, said: ‘Coronavirus has thrown all our lives, our communities and the UK into unprecedented crisis – families need to know they’re not on their own.

‘As we face so much fear and uncertainty, parents are dealing with huge new challenges – from home-schooling or helping children with their worries about the pandemic, through to managing finances during the crisis. Our incredible key workers have worked relentlessly to find new ways to support parents and children through these worrying times, and our new Talk service means we can offer much needed help to any parent Dorset who is struggling.

‘We want to make sure that at a time when our services are needed more than ever, Action for Children can continue to be there for parents, children and young people – both now and long after the crisis ends.’

For information and advice from the new Talk services please go to parents.actionforchildren.org.uk.


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