News affecting Scotland's third sector during lockdown
Investment in relationship counselling
Some £760,000 of Scottish Government funds will go to the Relationship Helpline to provide additional relationship support and counselling for adults this year. The only helpline of its kind in Scotland, it provides callers with access to immediate emotional support and counselling. In response to concerns about the impact of Coronavirus on family relationships and mental health, the Scottish Government will directly fund 200 hours per week of free counselling and extended opening hours for the service. Operated by The Spark, the Relationship Helpline has supported individuals with relationship issues since it was created in 2014. Callers to the helpline will be able to speak to a dedicated team of helpline counsellors about any relationship issue they are struggling with. Counsellors will provide help and support to callers, as well as signposting to appropriate specialist agencies or assessing them for counselling.
Charity warns against increased energy costs
Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to a new survey showing that people are set to face high energy bills because of increased fuel use during lockdown. The survey finds that 72% of households across the UK have seen an increase in their energy usage since lockdown began and that they face an average increase of over £32 per month in energy bills. Responding, CAS energy spokesperson Kate Morrison said: “Even before the outbreak of Covid-19 hundreds of thousands of people were already struggling with energy bills, with 1 in 4 households in Scotland in fuel poverty. What the coronavirus crisis does in addition to increasing energy usage for those at home is create an uncertainty and insecurity of income for furloughed workers. There is a real risk these higher prices will fall heaviest on those least able to pay. This is compounded by the fact that while switching can help in many cases, it won’t be an option for everyone.” The average annual cost of a combined gas and electricity bill is around £1,034, but due to increased usage this could rise to £1,421.
Children’s group reaches out to more
NSPCC Scotland wants more people to know how to get advice and support and where to raise concerns about a child’s wellbeing. The charity is launching a new TV and advertising campaign today (4 May) across the UK to promote its free and confidential helpline for adults. The film, which will run on national television and across social media, depicts a helpline expert taking a call from someone concerned for the wellbeing of a neighbour’s child. The UK government has provided £1.6m in funding so that the NSPCC can expand its helpline by employing more staff across two sites and raise public awareness of it. The work comes as the charity publishes the latest data from its helpline which shows that the crisis has exacerbated existing risks for children and created new ones. In the month since lockdown there have been a total of 5,237 contacts to the helpline from across the UK from adults concerned about the wellbeing and safety of a child.
Izzy wizzy let’s get quizzy!
Children across the UK are being urged to beat boredom by joining a Facebook Live quiz on 7 May hosted by the nation’s favourite magic bear. The virtual event, run by the RNIB, will begin at 2pm and last half an hour and will be hosted by Sooty and The Sooty Show’s TV presenter Richard Cadell. It has been designed to help alleviate the boredom which children may be feeling due to coronavirus restrictions. During the quiz Sooty and Richard will ask fun questions aimed at children aged 6-11 years old, although younger children are also welcome to join in. Sooty and Richard will also interact with the audience through the comments on the broadcast. The event is free for anyone to take part, with an option to make a donation to Sooty’s longstanding charity partner, RNIB, which has worked with The Sooty Show since the 1960s.
Young Scot reaches out to isolated kids
A package of financial support for organisations dealing with mental health among young people and those with autism has been announced by the health secretary. While no-one under 15 has died from coronavirus in Scotland, according to the official statistics, children are still seriously affected by the lockdown measures. With schools closed since before Easter and no date set for a return, and no meeting friends allowed, it is recognised that children’s mental health could be adversely affected. Jeane Freeman revealed cash for Young Scot, which to get £105,000 to provide more digital content on mental well-being on platforms like youtube, snapchat and tik-tok. Money was also announced for Scottish Autism to turn services they would normally offer face-to-face into a digital service.