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Barnardos makes crisis appeal as lockdown sees demand for services soar

  

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Adapting: CEO of Barnados Suzanne Connolly appealed for funding

Adapting: CEO of Barnados Suzanne Connolly appealed for funding

Adapting: CEO of Barnados Suzanne Connolly appealed for funding

Children's charity Barnardos has launched a crisis appeal as the number of people seeking its services continues to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barnardos is currently working with 1,580 families in supporting them during the crisis, and there are 600 families waiting for help. It offers food parcels, safety planning for families living with domestic abuse, distributing activity and support in managing crises in the home.

With children at the forefront of its operational model, CEO Suzanne Connolly told the Irish Independent it has had to become creative and adaptable to those in the most vulnerable circumstances.

"As soon as we knew this was happening, we wanted to ensure to deliver something to children and parents who need our services," she said.

"A lot of our work is based on transport - most of our work is face to face, working with people in centres or visiting them in their home. Our priority is maintaining that contact, but in a safe way.

"We're adapting by doing some consultations by Skype, but when we're very worried about families, we will call about to their home and stay within the social distancing framework. People are so grateful for that human contact."

Ms Connolly said despite the financial pressures Barnardos is facing, she credits its devoted staff for going above and beyond in these particularly trying times.

In some cases, the only meals children might have would be at Barnardos service centres, but now food costs are higher than ever as all meals are at home.

"Parents are used to children being in the centre four days a week getting hot meals and some type of breakfast. We're preparing meals in those centres and leaving outside people's doors," she said.

"It can be really tough if you're parenting on your own and one mum burst into tears when she got the meal. Food can be so comforting and nurturing."

Ms Connolly said they are devoted to helping and working with those on the waiting list for assistance.

"We are addressing that waiting list - our staff are so committed and trying to bring that down," she said. "Because the work is not face to face like it was, we have more capacity to ring and ask, 'how are you?' and we can work with more families."

More than 500,000 people are currently unemployed in Ireland and the number of those contacting charities is expected to continue increasing in the coming weeks.

Ms Connolly emphasised the importance of financial donations which allow staff to allocate resources appropriately.

Irish Independent