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Coronavirus: Calls for funds as charities lift lid on young victims of Covid pandemic

PUBLISHED: 09:23 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 07 August 2020

John Lyon's charity has been supporting St Michaels and All Angels Steel Orchestra. Picture: Peter van den Berg

John Lyon's charity has been supporting St Michaels and All Angels Steel Orchestra. Picture: Peter van den Berg

©2020 Under licence to Peter van den Berg

Children and young people have been the victims of domestic abuse, gang crime, digital exclusion and have experienced serious mental heath issues as a result of lockdown in Brent.

John Lyons charity has been supporting children from Phoenix Rising NW10 during covid. Picture: Geoff WilsonJohn Lyons charity has been supporting children from Phoenix Rising NW10 during covid. Picture: Geoff Wilson

Phoenix Rising NW10 had to change its approach to supporting children overnight after the government announced lockdown rules in March.

Executive trustee of the charity, Patrick McKay, said: “As we are in Harlesden and Stonebridge, our biggest challenge has been we have had no community premises to operate from.

“We had to respond to that by developing a remote working programme.”

Help came from John Lyon’s Charity and other charities on the network, and Patrick and his team were able to set up social media groups for the young people to keep in touch.

“Covid hit NW10 harshly, it was the epicentre, everybody knew somebody who had died. Death was all around us and negativity was enveloping them,” Patrick said. “Our main priority was that young people could talk to us and to each other.”

Among issues were digital exclusion and an inability to learn online due to lack of home-based computers and laptops.

The charity identified a backlash of anger management problems with fights between siblings and “boys being violent towards females, mothers as well” and mental health issues among members was a concern.

“People ended up being removed out of the area if a family member was infected with Covid. Family members disappeared to Outer Mongolia, or in this case, Milton Keynes and Luton.”

To help the children, the charity encouraged them to plant a seed from any fruit into a yogurt pot filled with water as a “metaphor of growth”.

John Lyon’s Charity has launched a video with providers including Patrick talking of the problems they encountered.

The charity has also ringfenced £500m of emergency funding to the London Community Response Fund and is calling on the government to provide more help.

Dr Lynne Guyton, chief executive at John Lyon’s Charity, said: “These small organisations that we support have to survive. If they don’t, the impact on the children and young people who desperately need their support and guidance will be immense.”


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