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Coronavirus – Information Hub for Families and Children

This is our information hub for children, young people, and families in Wales.

We will post answers to your questions, be honest when we don’t have the answers, post ideas, things to do while at home and things make you relax and laugh.

All children have the right to reliable information under the UNCRC.

Everything will be as bilingual as we can make it, and we will involve you in curating and writing materials.

We want to build this space with you, so please send us any suggestions you have, and please feel free to send your questions over.

Together stronger. We will get through this.

Our office building is closed, but our Investigation and Advice service is still 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.

Contact us

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.

Download the list

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.

Go to the page

The latest news

There’s a Newsround page which gives the latest information on the lockdown, and helps you if you feel upset by the news.

Go to newsround

Meic

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.

Contact Meic

Childline

Childline can listen to your worries and help you to cope with them.

Here’s how their service works.

Contact Childline.

Mind

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.

Go to their page

Young Minds

Tips, advice and guidance on where you can get support for your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Go to their page

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.

Visit the Page

Platfform4YP

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.

Go to the website

Llamau – Youth Homelessness

If you are at risk of homelessness and in need of support, call Llamau’s Youth Homeless Helpline.

Find out more

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.

Go to their site

Staying Safe Online

From dealing with cyberbullying to taking care of your digital footprint, this guide from Childline has lots of information to help you take good care of yourself online.

Go to the guide

Welsh Government’s Hwb platform has an Online Safety section which includes advice on managing screen time and staying safe online.

Go to Hwb

Public Health Wales have published support and advice for parents during the Coronavirus pandemic. PHW also offer online courses to support parents. Click here to go to Public Health Wales’ dedicated page for more information.

Covid-19 Parenting

There are plenty of resources here to help parents during lockdown and beyond, in 70 different languages.

See the resources

Talking to your children about coronavirus

Save the Children have advice on talking to your children about the coronavirus.

It includes:

  • getting informed and sharing the facts
  • answering your child’s questions and addressing any wrong information
  • validating their feelings and reassuring them

Go their website

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.

Download the PDF

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.

Go to their site

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.

Tips to share with children to help them cope with the new normal

Getting through lockdown with teenagers

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.

See the guide

Staying mentally well

It’s clear that trying to maintain good mental health throughout the next few months will be really important to all of us.

The mental health charity Mind has put some advice together.

Go to Mind

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.

Use the resource

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.

Go to the site

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.

Visit the BAME Helpline Wales website

Please get in touch with us with any questions you have about the Coronavirus and how children and young people might be affected.

You can tweet us, email us, or message us on Facebook.

We’ll try our best to answer them, and we’ll post the answers here.

Will EMA payments continue for those who receive them?

Yes. On 19 March we received confirmation from the Welsh Government that EMA payments will be unaffected.

My child has a complex disability. I’ve read on Facebook that they might not be treated if they get the coronavirus. Is this true?

We heard from parents who were really worried following the publication of new NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines on treating patients with coronavirus.

But we want to reassure parents that these new guidelines do not apply to children.

My school has shut down some of the water fountains, am I still allowed to drink water in the school?

Children and young people have a right to clean water (Article 24). Whilst schools may feel it is too risky to use water fountains at this moment in time, schools still have a statutory duty to provide drinking water in school which is free of charge. Pupils must have easy access at all times to free, fresh drinking water, especially during breakfast sessions and lunchtimes. You can find more information here.

This is still the law and there has not been any emergency law, policy or guidance in Wales during the Covid crisis to change this.

Please contact the head teacher of your school if there is no access to fresh water or contact our Investigation and Advice service for further advice

Your school or college has been working hard all summer to make it safe for you to return for the new term.

Lots of things will be in place to stop the spread of Covid-19. This includes places to wash your hands regularly, hand sanitiser and new rules to stop people getting too close together or mixing in big crowds.

Because of new advice, some secondary schools will be asking pupils to wear masks some of the time. This might be on the school bus and in corridors. Your school should get in touch with everything you need to know about this.

Information about Covid-19 is changing every day, and the latest scientific advice was updated just before the school terms restarts. Some schools and colleges will want to talk to teachers, parents and, most importantly, pupils next week about the best rules for their learners. This means that things could change when you go back to school or college. Your school or college should be involving you in these decisions and making sure you have the right information.

All colleges have agreed the same rules. Your college will let you know what they are, but most students will need a mask for college.

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 when not wearing it, like a plastic bag.
  • 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 if I can’t afford one?

Some schools and colleges will be providing masks for free. If you’re worried about costs, contact your school or college.

Do I have to wear a mask in my school or college or on the bus?

Your school or college will let you know what their rules are before you start back.

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.
  • Tell your college or school, or ask your parent or carer to do this.  They should let you know this is ok and make sure you don’t get into trouble for not wearing one.
  • 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.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly, you can contact our Investigation and Advice Service by calling 0808 801 1000 or send us an email.

What if the rules aren’t working well in my school or college?

You have the right to have a say in decisions that affect you. After the start of term, your school or college should give you the chance to have your say to make sure rules are fair and help keep everyone safe.

What rights are involved here?

Under the UNCRC you have the rights to health and to survival. That’s why your school or college is working on ways 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 in school why you’re not wearing a mask once you’ve agreed this with your school or college.

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 not wearing a mask. Please let someone know if this happens so they can protect you.

Download this information

Supporting neurodiverse children in challenging times

A video by NHS East London Foundation Trust to help parents support neurodiverse children through isolation.

Resources for children with additional needs

Swansea Bay Health Board has made this resource to help parents support children with additional needs over the coming weeks

Download the resource

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 through the next few weeks.

Download the guide

Useful resources from ASD Info Wales

There are lots of useful resources on this site, including help for parents/carers on preparing children to return to school.

Go to the site

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.

Download the PDF

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.

Go to their site

BSL stories from The Royal Association for Deaf people

The Royal Association for Deaf People are posting videos of popular children’s stories like the Gruffalo and The Tiger Who Came to Tea in BSL.

Go to their facebook page

Our Youth Advisory Panel is made up of children and young people from across Wales. Our panel helps us with fresh ideas and scrutinises our work.

They made their own resources about staying busy during lockdown, which can still be used as lockdown begins to ease.

Powerpoint for children

Thanks to Saiba for this information for children.

It explains what the virus is and how to stay safe.

Download the powerpoint

Timetables

Jac and her brother Harry have some advice for structuring your time.

Getting creative

Jac and Harry are back to share some of the ways they’ve been getting creative at home.

All ages

Widgit

Widgit software lets you make your own documents using symbols to aid communication.

It’s a subscription service, and there’s also a 21 day free trial.

Go to their site

The Maths Factor

You can get a free 21-day trial of Carol Vorderman’s online hub of maths activities and games by clicking the link below.

Go to The Maths Factor

Hwb

Your child can use their Hwb details to download Microsoft Office at home, and an Education Edition of Minecraft

Go to Hwb

WJEC

Resources made for teachers by WJEC on a variety of subjects, for different ages.

Go to their site

Young children

Bitw Bach

The Children’s Commissioner’s job is to promote and protect children’s rights.

We’ve made a new set of activities to help you to introduce your young children to their rights.

It includes using the story of The Three Little Pigs to help them understand their right to be safe.

Download the activities

Cyw

Take a look at these online games, songs, and resources by the team behind Cyw, the Welsh-language programme for young children.

Go to their site

Cbeebies

Cbeebies have lots of games and online resources for young children.

Go to their site

They also have games and quizzes to help young children with their Welsh language skills.

Go to the Welsh language site

Atebol

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.

Go to their playlist

Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you to stay mentally healthy.

We are Platfform, who help people experiencing challenges with their mental health, have recorded a mindfulness session to help you.

Ukulele Lessons

The musician Mei Gwynedd has started a new YouTube channel helping children, young people and families learn how to play the Ukulele from scratch.

This is another opportunity for children to hear Welsh daily if you don’t speak Welsh at home.

Sock Rhumba

Mrs Powell-Davies from Penclawdd school isn’t letting the isolation get in the way of her daily routine with her class. The whole of Wales will be able to join in the fun now!

CôR-ONA!

Côr (choir in Welsh)-ONA is a Facebook group where people post videos of themselves and/or family members singing.

There are some brilliantly uplifting songs from a wide variety of people.

Go to CôR-ONA’s facebook page

Just a bit of fun onboard HMS Defender! Tymed bach o hwyl ar HMS Defender!

Posted by Dafydd Boyle on Saturday, 21 March 2020

BookTrust Cymru Resources and Activities

BookTrust Cymru have posted lots of great ideas and fun stuff for you to try from authors, illustrators and storytellers from Wales, as well as lots of information about fun online sessions in English and Welsh

Go to BookTrust Cymru’s website

CRIW | Urdd Gobaith Cymru

There’s a wide selection of activities and resources on the Urdd’s website, ranging from cooking, to arts and crafts, to mindfulness.

Go to their site

Scouts – The Great Indoors

A selection of activities to do at home with children of different ages.

Go to the scouts’ site

Growing tomatoes

Why not give it a go?

All you need is some tomato seeds, a container, and some soil!

SchoolBeat Activities

SchoolBeat.cymru is a bilingual site from School Community Police Officers and contains a series of activities about keeping safe online during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Go to the SchoolBeat website

Outdoor Learning Wales

Outdoor Learning Wales, run by National Resources Wales, has created a series of activities and resources to do outdoors. They share their latest activities on their Twitter page and on their website.

Visit the Outdoor Learning Wales Twitter

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.

See the advice from Playful Childhoods

‘Play in crisis’

The International Play Association (IPA) has developed new resources to help parents and carers through lockdown.

See the resources

Play for all ages – 10 ideas

PlayHooray has 10 play ideas for every primary year group.

Go to their site

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!

See the list of things to do

Tiny Happy People

This resource from the BBC has simple activities and play ideas to help very young children.

Go the website

These resources could be used to help young children and children with additional learning needs.

Making a timetable

Keeping a routine can be really important, these might help you to make one with your child.

We’ve added them in different formats – PDF, Word, and JPEG. We hope at least one of them works for you. If not, get in touch with us and we’ll see if we can help.

My Routine

A selection of images to help you build a timetable.

PDF

Word

JPEG (1/2)

JPEG (2/2)

Monday to Friday

Each day of the week has a column so you can add your own activities.

PDF

Word

JPEG

Now and Next

You could use this to visualise what you are currently doing and to agree what to do next.

PDF

Word

JPEG

A message from the Children’s Commissioner

Sally talks about the rights you have whatever is happening in the world, and what you can do if you’re worried.

The services you are used to using are being delivered differently at the moment, because of Coronavirus. Because of “social distancing”, meeting lots of people face to face is not always safe. If we are to meet other people we need to keep two metres apart from each other, wash hands regularly and meet others who live in a different house outside. This is why you may not have seen your family and friends as you normally would or any adults in your life who provide support, such as social workers and personal advisers.

The services that support you and the people who work there are still there – they are just 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.

Seeing friends and family

The way you see your family may be different, and you may be speaking to parents, sibling, aunties, uncles or grandparents over the phone, or via a video call, or writing letters. As the threat of Coronavirus in the community is lower, you may be able to meet your family outside, if this is considered safe by your social worker. Speak with your social worker if you would like to see people face to face. They will need to explore this for you to make sure it is safe to do so.

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.

You may be missing the routine of education and seeing friends. If you have a social worker, you can attend Summer Holiday Clubs. Your social worker can help you with this.

Coronavirus-related advice for young people who have left care

We’ve created a short guide for young people who have left care. It includes information about:

  • Income and benefits
  • Housing
  • Mental health support

Download it here

Advocacy

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.

Use the tool 

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

Read more about the support they’re offering

Utility Bill Advice

You might be worried about how you can top up your water, gas and electricity if you are staying in and avoiding public places. 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.

EDF

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..

https://www.edfenergytrust.org.uk/

Water

Reducing Payments

If you’re a low income household and you get mveans-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.

https://contact.dwrcymru.com/en/helpu

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

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.

Go to my planner

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. You can find contact details for local services here;
  • 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.

Go to their site

Over 23,700 children and young people aged 3-18 shared their views through the Coronavirus and Me Survey.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part and to everyone who helped us share the survey with children and young people from all over Wales.

Here we’ve published an overview of some of the main results.

Go to the survey results page

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

We know home life will be hectic while the schools are closed, so 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!

Making it work with teenagers

Participation team member Kath talks about how she’s approached the lockdown with her teenagers, and the little things that might help.

What went well today?

Here’s another video from Kath.

She talks about ending each day by asking ‘What went well today?’ and congratulating each other on the positives.

 

Water Play

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!

Boredom buster!

Jordan has some tips to keep boredom at bay!

Quizzes, sportsdays, and bake-offs

Kath shares ways to revisit favourite family memories, letting family members lead on ‘sportsdays’, and holding a bake-off if you’re lucky enough to have self-raising flour!

Making bubbles!

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!?

Sensory Play

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

Loose parts

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

Toy worlds

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

What can you make with 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