This is our information hub for children, young people, and families in Wales.
How can I get help for my child’s mental health during this time?
There is still support out for your child including school counselling, charities, websites, helplines and referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Please see the tab below ‘Advice for children and young people’.
Our Investigation and Advice service is open for children, families and professionals, so please get in touch if you need advice and support.
We can offer advice and support to any child, young person, or somebody who cares for them if they feel that they’ve been treated unfairly.
Mental Health – Local Counselling Services
If you need help with your mental health, here is a list of all local authorities’ counselling services.
Thanks to Welsh Government for putting this list together.
A list of organisations who give support and information
This page has a list of lots of different websites and services that give mental health support and information to young people and families.
See, Hear, Respond Wales
See, Hear, Respond Wales is here to help children, young people and families cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
They offer confidential online referral and have a free helpline.
Meic can listen to you if you’re feeling worried and help you to feel better.
You can call them or chat to them online.
This is how their service works.
Childline can listen to your worries and help you to cope with them.
Here’s how their service works.
Papyrus is a national charity preventing young suicide across the UK. They provide confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person.
The mental health charity mind has made a page for young people who are worried about coronavirus and want to know how to cope with changes to their lives.
Tips, advice and guidance on where you can get support for your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit
The Welsh Government have created an online resource that will support young people with their mental health during this pandemic.
This toolkit will link young people aged 11-25 to websites, apps and helplines to help build resilience and support them through this pandemic and beyond.
Platfform4YP is a project made by young people for young people. This website gives young people the chance to have their voices heard and to share their stories and ideas with each other and the world.
It’s regularly updated with content to help you with your mental health.
Llamau – Youth Homelessness
If you are at risk of homelessness and in need of support, call Llamau’s Youth Homeless Helpline.
Abuse and safety
There are many different types of abuse.
Childline’s website explains what some different types of abuse mean and how to get help and support.
Handling mixed emotions during the pandemic
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has created a useful poster about managing the difficult emotions you might feel during the pandemic. Click the link below to download the poster.
What if I cannot go to work as I’ve been told I have to self-isolate or my child is sent home from school to isolate?
In Wales there is a Self-Isolation Support Scheme for people on low incomes or facing money worries when asked to self-isolate.
This Scheme was started for people asked to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service. It has now been extended to include parents and carers who have to take time off work to look after their children because of a coronavirus outbreak in their school or childcare setting.
What happens to my child’s education if they are self-isolating?
They should still be provided with school work and support from their school in term-time. If you are not sure what they are being asked to do, or if your child doesn’t understand the work, then contact your school to ask for help. You can also ask your school for help if your child doesn’t have what they need to do the work, such as a laptop or iPad. Your school may be able to loan equipment.
Does my child still get access to free school meals if they are self-isolating?
Yes, if they normally get free school meals then they will be offered the same level of support that you received in the summer and half-term holidays. That may be a payment, a voucher or a food parcel. To find out how to access this support in your area please visit this website
There are plenty of resources here to help parents during lockdown and beyond, in 70 different languages.
Talking to your children about coronavirus
Save the Children have advice on talking to your children about the coronavirus.
- getting informed and sharing the facts
- answering your child’s questions and addressing any wrong information
- validating their feelings and reassuring them
Explaining Coronavirus to young children
Adapted from a resource by Manuela Molina, this resource uses symbols and simple language to help you talk to young children about Coronavirus, and listen to their concerns.
Visiting hospitals and other health settings
It’s crucial that parents get medical help or advice for the same issues that would have prompted them to see their doctor or local hospital before the coronavirus epidemic. Not doing so could put their children at risk.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have also have resources and advice to help parents keep their children safe.
Advice from a clinical psychologist
Elizabeth Gregory, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with over twenty years experience working with Child and Family services in the NHS, has written about ways to help children and young people.
Advice for parents on non-coronavirus illnesses
It’s just as important as ever to get medical help for your child if you think they need it, for any illness.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has made a one-page guide to help you know where to go for various symptoms.
Staying mentally well
It’s clear that trying to maintain good mental health throughout this period will be really important to all of us.
The mental health charity Mind has put some advice together.
See, Hear, Respond Wales
See, Hear, Respond Wales is here to help children, young people and families cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
They offer confidential online referral and have a free helpline.
4 Mental Health resource
This online resource can help you find ways to feel a bit calmer and can give you ideas to help you cope.
We’d recommend this as a resource for adults and older young people.
C.A.L.L – Mental Health Helpline for Wales
Get mental health support over the phone or by text, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service can be used by children and young people as well as adults.
BAME Helpline Wales
BAME Helpline Wales is a national multi-lingual telephone helpline delivered by a partnership between EYST, Women Connect First, ProMo Cymru, Henna Foundation and other BAME organisations to provide information, referral and signposting for BAME people to specialist advice, mainstream and community organisations. Funded by Welsh Government via the Voluntary Sector Emergency Fund, the helpline is initially a 6 month pilot project, and aims to respond to the disproportionate impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on BAME communities.
The helpline is for anyone over the age of 18 living in Wales, particularly if you identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic, or if you would like to speak to someone in a language other than English or Welsh.
What are masks?
Masks are face-coverings. They can be bought or you can make your own. They can be disposable (use only once) or washable.
Masks can help prevent the spread of coronavirus when people need to be close together. They only work when used properly. You will need to:
- Wash your hands before putting it on
- Cover your mouth and nose with the mask
- Put it away in a clean place like a plastic bag when you’re not wearing it.
- If you use a washable mask, you will need to wash your mask often.
- If you use a disposable mask, place your mask in a litter bin after using it. Do not litter as it can damage the environment.
What are the rules in schools?
From 1 September 2021, the Welsh Government won’t ask schools to make sure that pupils wear face masks in class.
Schools might ask pupils to wear them in some other places in the school, but this will depend on the school.
This link has the current guidance for schools.
What if I can’t wear a mask?
- You may not be able to wear a mask because of your health or disability, or because of how you communicate with others.
- You don’t need to tell other young people why you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to.
- Remember to stick to other rules like hand washing and keeping your distance when asked.
What do I do if I see someone not wearing a mask?
They may have a medical condition or disability that means they don’t have to wear one. They have a right to privacy. Don’t ask them why they don’t have to wear one.
What if I’m still worried?
If you’re feeling worried, you can:
- Contact Meic if you need advice and support. You can call 080880 23456 for free or use their webchat.
- Contact Childline if you’re worried or upset. You can call 0800 1111 for free or speak to a counsellor online.
What rights are involved here?
Under the UNCRC you have the rights to health and to survival. That’s why we’re taking steps to keep everyone safe from the spread of infection.
You also have the right to be treated fairly and supported if you have a disability. That’s why you cannot be made to wear a mask if your health or disability means you can’t.
You have a right to privacy. You don’t have to tell other people why you’re not wearing a mask.
You have the right to be safe. As well as keeping safe from the virus, you also should be safe from people teasing or bullying you for any reason. No-one should be bullied if they don’t wear a mask. No-one should be bullied for the type of mask they wear. Please let someone know if this happens so they can protect you.
Supporting neurodiverse children in challenging times
A video by NHS East London Foundation Trust to help parents support neurodiverse children through periods of isolation.
Resources for children with additional needs
Swansea Bay Health Board has made this resource to help parents support children with additional needs
Supporting children with a learning disability/ASD
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have made a comprehensive guide to supporting children with a learning disability/ASD
Activities by Sparkle – supporting disabled children
This PDF brings together a collection of activities recommended by Sparkle to try at home with children and young people.
Supporting d/Deaf children
The National Deaf Childrens’ Society has put this page together to help support d/Deaf children and young people and their families.
CCFW’s Homelearning Packs
The Children’s Commissioner’s job is to promote and protect children’s rights and we’ve made a new set of homelearning activities to help you to introduce your children to their rights at home.
Bitw Bach – Foundation Phase
We have created two options for children age 3 to 7 years old so that they can learn about children’s rights at home.
Key Stage 2
We have created an option for children age 7 to 11 years old so that they can continue to learn about children’s rights while at home.
Your child can use their Hwb details to download Microsoft Office at home, and an Education Edition of Minecraft
Resources made for teachers by WJEC on a variety of subjects, for different ages.
Take a look at these online games, songs, and resources by the team behind Cyw, the Welsh-language programme for young children.
Cbeebies have lots of games and online resources for young children.
They also have games and quizzes to help young children with their Welsh language skills.
If Welsh isn’t your home language, why not use Welsh story and song time videos on YouTube as part of your daily routine.
Atebol have a YouTube playlist with Welsh language stories.
Playing at home
Play is so important to children that they have a specific right to play under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
These are some resources to help you come up with games and activities to keep you and your children healthy.
‘Play in crisis’
The International Play Association (IPA) has developed new resources to help parents and carers through the pandemic.
Play for all ages – 10 ideas
PlayHooray has 10 play ideas for every primary year group.
Playing in the garden
Here are some lovely ideas for playing creatively in the garden.
We’re particularly fond of making a dinosaur garden!
Don’t worry if you haven’t got plants, anything decorative you have around the house will do!
Tiny Happy People
This resource from the BBC has simple activities and play ideas to help very young children.
The services that support you and the people who work there are still there – they might just be working differently.
You still have your rights and it is important that any adult working to support you works in your best interests. It is important that your views, wishes and feelings are listened to by adults and you are helped to be involved in decisions made about your life.
Having contact with adults who help you
Your social worker or support worker may come to visit you. They may be wearing a mask. This is for both your safety, to protect you from Coronavirus.
It is important that you know how to contact your social worker. If you do not know how to contact your social worker, speak to your carers, advocate, or call your Local Authority Duty Team. If you cannot get in touch, you could contact our Investigation and Advice Team.
Important meetings, like reviews and plans
You will still have your reviews with your social worker and IRO. These might be done through a video call. If you are a little unsure about this, ask your social worker for a practice call, or speak with your social worker, advocate, IRO or a trusted adult before to share your concerns. It is important that your voice is heard at these meetings and you should be told of any changes to the way it is held.
Whatever the circumstances, all care experienced young people have a right to have a say in the decisions that affect them, and to have their voice heard.
Any child or young person who usually lives in Wales and has a social worker can have an Independent Professional Advocate.
There are two providers for this, NYAS and TGP Cymru.
There’s a tool that shows which provider works in your area.
Support from Voices from Care
Voices from Care support care experienced young people in Wales.
They’re offering some the following support to young people:
- Social check-ins, including Facebook live chats and Skype calls
- Wellbeing support
- Virtual hangouts
- Info and advice
Utility Bill Advice
You might be worried about how you can top up your water, gas and electricity if you are self-isolating. Below is some information which may be helpful on how to do this, without needing to go out to the shops, and what to do if you’re struggling to pay.
Out of gas and electricity and having to self-isolate
If you haven’t already, it might be worth looking into whether you are able to sign up to a ‘pay as you go’ smart meter. This means that you can top up using apps instead of having to go out to the shops. You would need to check with your landlord/housing association to check that you are able to do this.
If you do not have a meter and cannot get out to the shops; you can buy codes by ringing your supplier’s customer services and then you can type these into your meter to top up.
If you’re counted as part of a vulnerable group, gas and electricity suppliers need to make sure that you aren’t at risk from having your supply cut off. If there’s an issue with your supply not working, your company should try to fix yours before other people’s. You should get in touch with your supplier to let them know if you are a vulnerable person so they know to prioritise you.
Out of Gas and Electric fund (including emergency)
If you contact your gas or electricity supplier and tell them that you do not have the funds, you can ask them to top up the meter for you. You will have to make repayments, which will come off automatically when you top up in the future; but you can discuss how they can make this work for you in the best way possible. You will need to give them information about your income or any benefits you might be claiming.
If you are an EDF customer and are struggling to meet payments for gas and electric bills the link below takes you to their EDF Energy Customer Support Fund.
If you’re a low income household and you get means-tested benefits, you might be able to get support through the Dwr Cymru HelpU tariff to reduce your future water bills. Below is a link to the application webpage with Live Chat.
Emergency/Fault with Supply
If you have an emergency regarding your water supply – you can call the number below free of charge-
0800 281 432
My Planner is our website for young people in care and young people leaving care.
It explains what rights and entitlements you have and what the adults around you need to do.
Advice and extra support
If you are a young person in Wales and you are caring for someone, it is important that you are aware of the support available to you at this time. Caring for someone is a big responsibility, so it is important that you take care of yourself too. Below is some information on who to contact if you would like advice or extra support.
- Ask for help and support. This can be from a family member, a neighbour, a support group or from social services
- Speak to your school and let them know about your caring role
- If you are finding it difficult to do you school work let your school know this too
- Remember to take care of yourself too. There are lots of tips on the main page to help
If you are facing any barriers or issues in accessing support, please contact our Investigation and Advice service and speak to one of the case workers who will be able to help you.
Guidance from the Carers Trust
The Carers Trust has made new guidance to help young carers through the current situation.
It has advice on things like mental health, staying fit and well, and the local organisations who can help you too.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, we’ve held two big surveys with children and young people across Wales to hear their experiences.
We’ll regularly post videos here from our brilliant Participation team to help you think about playing at home.
Dens, sock puppets, recycling materials, and play cinemas!
Creating a calming space at home
Jordan from our Participation team has some useful tips for making a space at home specifically to help your child relax and calm down.
She also talks about which household materials you could use to help.
Fun with paper and card
Origami, cardboard dolls’ houses, the ball and box game, and paper aeroplanes!
How much fun can you have with a container and some water? Jordan from our Participation Team is here to talk about water play:
Making a cardboard city, playing with ‘chatterboxes’, and chatting about emotions
Rhian shares her ideas on building a city out of cardboard, making ‘chatterboxes’, and starting conversations about how we feel.
Garden funny faces
Using the natural materials in your garden to make funny faces!
Jordan has some tips to keep boredom at bay!
Jordan’s easy technique for making bubbles at home. All you need is a bowl, some washing up liquid and a toilet roll tube!
Making music with your recycling bag contents!
Yoghurt pot castanets, toilet roll shakers, cereal box guitars; how can you use the contents of your recycling bag to start a family band!?
Is your child missing the sensory play they normally enjoy at school? Jordan has some ideas to help you make your own sensory play space at home
Is it rubbish? Or is it play equipment!? Watch the video for some ideas on turning loose parts into free play
Sensory Play – painting with coloured ice and blowing bubbles from socks
Making a magic wand
All you need to build a toy world is:
- your favourite toy
- a clear container
- decorations from your garden or daily walk
5 things to make with used toilet roll tubes
❤️We love this ❤️Sophie from our participation team has some brilliantly creative ideas to help you turn old toilet roll tubes into fun objects.Watch the video to learn how to turn them into:🐜An insect hotel👀Binoculars🐇An Easter bunny🚗Racing cars!Brilliant!
Posted by Children's Commissioner for Wales on Wednesday, 8 April 2020