Health and wellbeing concerns for children with complex needs during pandemic

Family Fund reveals the impact coronavirus and lockdown is having on families with disabled children, as £10 million emergency funding is announced.

Family Fund, the UK's largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people, has discovered that 94% of families feel the health and wellbeing of their disabled or seriously ill child has been negatively affected during lockdown. Surveys undertaken on the 27 March and 30 April to track the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic also revealed that this figure has increased from 89% since lockdown began. Additionally, 89% said their disabled or seriously ill child’s behaviour and emotions were being negatively affected, and 82% reported a negative effect on their mental health. Three-quarters (74%) of families are also struggling with educating and entertaining their child at home, and 65% say their access to formal support services for their child, such as physiotherapy and mental health services, has declined. Almost one third (30%) say they have struggled to afford food and a quarter (24%) of parent carers report missing meals in the last two weeks, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of families now having no savings to fall back on. In response to the crisis presented by the pandemic, the Department of Education has announced an extra £10 million in emergency funding for Family Fund. The money will be used to help more families in England who are struggling with the impact of coronavirus. Families raising disabled children on low incomes can apply for grants to ease the pressure they face, to use for items including computers and tablets, outdoor play equipment and sensory toys, or household essentials like washing machines, fridges or beds. Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said the emergency funding will make a real difference to those struggling with the strain that this pandemic is creating for disabled children and their families: “The challenge of caring for children with complex needs, alongside coping with the ongoing stress of coronavirus, is taking a huge toll on families. “With this additional £10 million of funding Family Fund can make an incredible difference, providing practical and essential grant support to help improve the quality of life and ease some of the additional daily pressures faced in these difficult times by many disabled children and their families."
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