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Clackmannanshire Council is urging everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for vulnerable children during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the closure of schools, nurseries and other community facilities, organisations and services who would normally support children, young people and families are facing more challenges in spotting problems.
Vulnerable children are feared to be at greater risk of harm during the lockdown restrictions because of the pressures it places on troubled families.
There are particular concerns about households with pre-existing problems in relation to mental health, substance abuse or domestic abuse.
Cllr Jane McTaggart, Vice Convenor of the People Committee, said: “During the current Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever for members of the public across Clackmannanshire to speak up if they see or hear something worrying about a child or children.
“Everyone in the community has their part to play. If you are worried at all about a child’s welfare, it is much better to say something than do nothing.
“Our family support services, which offer advice, information and practical assistance are still operating, so if you are a parent or carer who is struggling, please get in touch.”
There are also fears people aren’t alerting support services at this time as children are less visible and due to concerns of overburdening public services, who are in the frontline of the pandemic.
Since Government restrictions came into force, there is evidence of a reduction in all types of reporting of suspected harm across Scotland.
Alan Small, chair of CPCScotland, the national body representing all Child Protection Committees across Scotland, has said: “The lockdown is having a profound impact on all families in different ways. Confinement will simply add to existing stress for some families. Add to that the harsh reality that many families will be struggling financially and may not have the usual access to food, and some real problems may emerge.
“We already know that poverty increases tensions in families and can make parenting really difficult so I’m urging parents and carers who are struggling during Covid-19 to seek support from family services, health professionals and helplines which already exist. Support services are still operating and open for business. It’s far better to reach out for help than let things escalate. You can get support by going to your local councils’ website where a variety of helpline numbers will be displayed. If you'd rather, you can also contact your local council’s social work department or talk to your health visitor, nurse or GP or any other trusted person.”
During the day you can contact Clackmannanshire Council Social Work on 01259 225000.
Out of Hours (after 5pm and at weekends) you can contact the team on 01786 470500.
If you are concerned a child is at immediate risk of harm call Police Scotland on 999.
Due to the current restrictions and closure of schools, children will be spending more time online. Parents and cares should be aware of the increased risks of online abuse. Websites such as www.net-aware.org.uk or www.thinkuknow.co.uk help people report abuse and offer information on how to minimise potential risks from others online.
The NHS Inform website is producing regularly updated guidance on Covid-19 and is the best resource for the latest information and advice.
If you are worried about your mental health during this crisis, please visit our website where you will find a range of wellbeing resources.