Raising children with additional needs or disabilities can be tough at the best of times. Throw in a pandemic, working from home and home-schooling, and it may start to become just a little overwhelming!
As well as co-chairing Leonardo’s Carers Network Group. I am also a Parent Carer and run ADHD Yeovil in Somerset, as a volunteer. All of us at ADHD Yeovil also work for the Somerset Parent Carer Forum as Parent Representatives.
In all these roles, I would normally be meeting face-to-face with parents, carers and families to offer our support and signpost services. But how do we go about supporting families when we are implementing social distancing rules?
Like most people, we’re having to adapt to the situation we are in. At the Somerset Parent Carer Forum, we have created a dedicated website section about Covid-19, offering ideas on things to do with your family, support for parents, home education ideas, anxiety and challenging behaviour advice, updates from services and much more.
All our Directors and Parent Representatives are continuing to work within the social distancing guidelines to provide ongoing updates and support for all of our families in need. This includes providing a phone line which is open three times a week and setting up virtual coffee meetings so parents and carers are supported and can ask advice. This extends online through our dedicated Facebook and Twitter channels.
Supporting colleagues in a changing workplace
Within Leonardo, we’re listening to our colleagues who are also carers, and understanding the difficulties they face within the workplace. This then enables the Carers Network Group to represent their voices to company management, and, where possible, develop a different way of working that benefits all.
Over the past three months, it’s been recognised that homeworking can be highly effective for the company and employees, not just those who are carers. While Leonardo’s flexible working policy already enables me to change my working days, if needed – to attend medical appointments with my son – the introduction of new flexible working approaches may allow me to work for more hours at my own pace.
Although we don’t know how long lockdown may last, we are committed to providing as much care and support as is possible to our own families, colleagues and wider network throughout these challenging times.