Bigs help Littles get through lockdown
A charity that pairs vulnerable children with responsible adults is doing its best to maintain relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patrina O'Connor-Paynter, the managing director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda, said that the programme was “more important than ever before” after the country went into lockdown.
She added that the BBBS Bigs had been in close contact with their partnered children to make sure that they felt safe during the coronavirus crisis.
Ms O'Connor-Paynter said: “We gave our Bigs and Littles a time capsule activity where they can document what's going on with them during this Covid-19 lockdown.
“It lets the Littles document how they're feeling, what they did during this time and just helps them through this situation.”
Ms O'Connor-Paynter said that many vulnerable families had struggled over the shutdown because many could not work from home and had been laid off.
She added that the extra financial pressure could increase stress in households and further damage struggling families.
Ms O'Connor-Paynter explained: “I think all of us are facing uncertainty, which is quite frightening, but when you pair that uncertainty with a lack of food, not knowing how you are going to pay your bills, trying to ensure your children are doing schoolwork and not being able to leave your house and get a break, the stresses become real and can take a toll on any family.”
She added: “We have had people contact us just to have someone to give them encouragement through these times.
“We are trying to help where we can and have also contacted our community partners from places like the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Mirrors to help our clients.
“It takes all of us working together to help to meet needs and make a difference through these challenging times.”
Ms O'Connor-Paynter highlighted that children were particularly vulnerable to fear and stress caused by the pandemic.
She said that many mentors had used video calls to spend time with their paired children and had helped with schoolwork and arts and crafts.
Ms O'Connor-Paynter added: “There are social-media tools like Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp video and Houseparty that would allow them to do pretty much everything that they did together in person.
“A lot of our boys have been playing games online with their Bigs — the Fifa football game has been really huge.”
She said: “Bigs continue to have an essential role to play in the lives of their Littles over the weeks and months to come as we navigate life in this new reality.”