Last week's momentous return to school saw many parents bribing children out of their beds before 10am, hunting for a pair of shoes that actually fit, removing squidgy half-melted miscellaneous chocolate from the bottom of the book-bag, and squeezing a school-run into what was already a teetering jenga-esque work-juggling nightmare. Anyone out there who managed to do the school drop-off without a pyjama top concealed covertly under your coat - I salute you. But what about all the children who are left at home? The quest to educate and entertain them continues. Fortunately we are hugely helped by a number of local options. For instance, whilst libraries remain closed, the Blue House Book Shop accepts online orders and delivers to your doorstep in a cute paper bag. Rainbows Ceramics pottery painting cafe is also offering 'take-away' pots and paints to enjoy at home and don't worry if your muggle oven doesn't reach 3000°C, they'll even fire the finished pots for you. Supporting local businesses like this will ensure the small shops that make York so uniquely quaint will survive despite the current lack of footfall.
Let's also remember all the children who aren't lucky enough to get any sort of school or home school experience. Many families are struggling and there will sadly be children for whom lockdown has worsened tensions at home in the most horrible way. Last week, York's Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (with its fantastic acronym 'MASH') launched an awareness campaign to highlight their new single point of access for anyone concerned about a child. York's MASH is a super team of lots of agencies (healthcare, police, schools, probation etc.) all working together to share information and try to keep children safe. The main and very important message is:
If you are concerned about a child, please call 01904 551900 or email MASH@york.gov.uk
And despite media stories to the contrary, there really is help out there for key-worker parents struggling with childcare during lockdown. Check out this link. If you think more needs to be done, please write to your local MP. Unless of course you're reading this from the constituency of Bishop Auckland (which by the way has a lovely market town called Barnard Castle. Just in case you happen to be visiting. During lockdown. Ahem).
The media is full of doom and gloom at the moment whichever way you look. And it can be hard for parents to know how to explain what is going on - not just with COVID - but with other issues in the world, all of which seem to throw a ghastly veil of uncertainty over the future of our children and their planet. Anxiety is not just something that adults face; it can affect youngsters as well. So knowing where to turn to help them is hugely important. Your local friendly GPs can help here. We have same-day telephone and video appointments at OSMP and you can also check out these fantastic links: Kooth do free online counselling for young people and this is a great interface if your little person finds it easier to type than talk. Did I mention there's no waiting list? And have a quick shufty at this series of superb videos for kids from TV doctors Chris and Xand, plus this one on why you should wash your hands. Now I insist you watch this, it really is a vital public health message. We all know a few children who don't always wash their hands after visiting the loo. And maybe even a few adults (gasp!).
There are so many fantastic charities working flat-out to give disadvantaged children support and hope. Have a look at the brilliant work being done by the NSPCC, Childline, Save the Children, or Barnardo’s. And finally, OSMP recently received some lovely leaflets for children from Spiffy, to help with anxiety and worry. What a lovely positive website! You can find all sorts of their helpful goodies here. Be warned though - this is most definitely a browsing rabbit-hole! The 'moan and move on' notepad seems like a perfect christmas stocking filler...*adds to own list immediately*.