City based charity Home-Start Aberdeen is responding to the coronavirus pandemic by adapting its services to provide support to families on a remote basis in a bid to stay connected.

Helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown Home-Start Aberdeen currently supports 75 families across the city (over 200 adults and children). This support is usually provided via a home-visiting service where carefully selected and trained volunteers are there for families, visiting them in their own homes with compassionate, confidential help.

Earlier this week, like many, they had to make the decision to cease all face-to-face home-visiting services through their volunteer network as well as closing to any new referrals.

Cathy Beattie, team leader at Home-Start Aberdeen said: “Our role is to help families with young children living in Aberdeen and amid these times that need for help is going to be greater than ever. Already we support many families who face isolation in different ways in their day to day lives. What we are facing now is further isolation for those families we already support as well as increasing numbers of families who will experience isolation for what might be a lengthy period of time.

“We are determined to stay connected with families and we’re adapting our approach continuing to offer much needed support on a remote basis whilst we can’t visit families in person. We have spoken directly to all our families this week and our volunteers will be providing support through phone calls, video messaging, and utilising tools such as WhatsApp, social media and email to keep connected until we are able to start home-visiting again.

“We are teaming up with other local charities who have offered assistance including Social Bite who have applied for government funding to provide lunch boxes. Following a call from them on Wednesday, we are picking up some lunch packs (sandwich, crisps, fruit and water) and doing door stop drops today to our most vulnerable families. We’re also in contact with CFine and hope to get some additional supplies for those families to top up the deliveries. We know already that some families are struggling to get basic supplies and worrying how they will manage to buy kids food if the panic buying continues.”

Home-Start Aberdeen is also introducing Holly the helpful Home-Start Bear, a character who will be suggesting fun activities and ideas every morning on their Facebook page. Holly will appear each day with a different activity for children and families to do at home until they get back to school and nursery.

“We know how difficult it is going to be for many parents juggling work and being at home with young children and if we make things a little bit easier then we can continue to make a difference, even if it’s on a small scale.”

Anyone can follow Holly on Home-Start Aberdeen’s Facebook page @HomeStartAberdeen or create their own activity time bear at home.