There are a lot of offers of help during the current and unprecedented crisis. It is both heart-warming and gratifying to see our community coming together to help our more vulnerable neighbours. 

We would encourage all new community groups, unused to working with volunteers to use only those volunteers with enhanced DBS checks to work directly with vulnerable people and children. 

Some groups are looking to ensure boredom and isolation are lessened by keeping in phone contact with those isolating, collecting books etc. for a shared library delivery or many other initiatives that have been suggested. Unchecked volunteers will be able to shop, help to co-ordinate deliveries etc.  

With schools closing from end of school hours on Friday 20th March, keyworkers are still able to access support with childcare. Vulnerable children are also covered by this initiative. More detail on this should be found on the RBK website. For all children that are eligible for this support, school settings are also being encouraged to continue support over the Easter holidays. 

The official criteria for categories of keyworker will be issued by the Government later today.  

If you have to work, but are not classified as a keyworker and are unable to get childcare, do not appeal for help online on open forums as this may leave your child vulnerable. Use DBS checked volunteers, preferably with childcare experience. Better still see if there are other parents that you already know, that you can share childcare duties with. Sadly, there may be some people that see access to vulnerable people and children as an opportunity. 

Many parents and carers will need to make decisions about whether to leave their child alone for short or longer periods. Here is the best advice from the NPSCC Home Alone guidance 

If you are reliant on older siblings taking care of younger children if you are incapacitated, you should bear in mind the following guidance from the NSPCC on this. 

All information that we can offer is subject to change so we will update our advice regularly according to the latest Government advice. We will be working with The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames on how best to support our voluntary and community sector at this challenging time.  

Information from Achieving for Children on behalf of RBK 

The following links will give you the most up to date information from Achieving for Children who are constantly updating their site as the situation and instructions change. Voluntary and community groups should pass this on to any parents that they are in contact with. 

Advice to give to parents that become unwell themselves. It is very important that suitable carers are chosen for your children, if close family members are not available. Private Fostering is a term used when close family members or legal guardians are not used to care for children for more than 28 days. The SPA (Single Point of Access) would need to be informed to assess the safety of this placement for children aged until 16 years of age.  Find out more here: GOV.UK   

To conclude, with so many offers of help from our neighbours through the various COVID-19 support groups in the borough, we should be able to ‘ride this storm’ and come out of this a stronger, kinder and more united community. 

Further advice and information on keeping your children safe can be sought from the Kingston and Richmond Safeguarding Partnership webpages