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Covid-19 puts extra need on charity

The charity Family Centre expects a “significant uptick” in those requiring its help, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic ripples through the community.

Sandy De Silva, the charity's director of services, said Covid-19 challenges would mean “an increased need for mental health and wellness services”.

Dr De Silva, who takes over as executive director from Martha Dismont on July 1, added that Family Centre “immediately saw urgent needs in the areas of food and in student technology for home schooling”.

Thanks to donations, she said 26 families now had access to a laptop and wi-fi.

The centre gives free counselling to families with children aged 4 to 18, and has offered support remotely for the last five weeks.

A statement yesterday said the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline was available daily at 543-1111 from 9am to 9pm.

Families in need can reach the charity at 232-1116, leave a message, and get a response from a screener within 24 hours, the statement said.

Dr De Silva said client families were assessed for need starting March 30, with many “laid off from work or already struggling financially”.

She said Family Centre was giving “critical counselling and case management services” via online teleconferencing.

The statement continued:

Dr De Silva said: “The most vulnerable populations will be greatly impacted. As we socially distance to protect our physical health, we must also protect our mental health and that of those we care for and love. Children look to their parents for cues on how to relate to, and engage with, their world. When parents are highly stressed, their children feel stressed. Adults and children alike may feel overwhelmed and confused about the world right now. This may manifest in feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, and in regressive or self-destructive and negative behaviours. Hence, it is important for everyone to express their emotions, to let off steam, unravel cycles of negative thoughts, and allow for healing. Left untreated, poor mental health will not go away on its own and could continue for years to come.”

Protect your family by incorporating Family Centre's 5 Cs for physical and emotional wellbeing.

• Connecting: This is a great time to enhance our relationships with one another by observing and taking care of each other's needs. Try to have time apart and together. Find ways for children to remotely connect with their friends. Take care of what you can, act with compassion and let go of the rest. Connect around wellness and this will spread positivity into your relationships!

• Calming: Parent self-care is critical to manage emotional overload. Parents should not feel guilty taking time to do what they need to in order to care for themselves, such as sitting outside, watching something that makes them laugh, or going for a walk. When parents are calm, their children will be calm. Learning to accept frustration as part of the process instead of trying to ‘fix' people to do things your way is critical.

• Cooking: Providing food for our loved ones is a basic function of family life. Try cooking something new and get those in your household involved. Offer a listening ear of support, comfort and encouraging words while you cook or bake together.

• Creating: Take advantage of this time to come closer together by playing games, going on walks, asking each other about interests/likes/dislikes, gardening together — doing anything that brings about smiles and laughter. Encourage family members to express themselves creatively in the medium of their choice.

• Caring: Put yourself in your family member's shoes and try to see the world from their eyes. Children are used to the school schedule of 8:30am to 3:30pm, five out of seven days a week. They should wake at a similar time and go to bed at a similar time, daily. Weekends can be more relaxed. They should eat regular meals and snacks and get plenty of exercise, which will help them to sleep better. Finally, be realistic, drop and change expectations of what is doable in one day, one week or in the next month. Adjust expectations about schoolwork completion and performance accordingly to primarily focus on children's emotional ability to cope.

Have a daily or weekly family check-in routine to see how everyone is doing with the 5 Cs. This type of check-in allows children to see that their emotional wellbeing is as important as their physical wellbeing.

Family Centre invites you to join their “FC 5C Challenge”. Find out more information on this challenge by visiting the Family Centre website: https://www.tfc.bm/fc5c-challenge

Sandy De Silva (File Photograph)

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Published April 28, 2020 at 8:00 pm (Updated April 28, 2020 at 8:00 pm)

Covid-19 puts extra need on charity

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