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Stories from lockdown: how are we keeping children occupied?

Staying at home during COVID-19 is difficult for many people, but for the parents and carers of school-aged children, it can be particularly challenging. Since lockdown was announced, Big Local areas have been responding creatively to support those at home with children – here are just a few of their fantastic initiatives. 

What have Big Local areas been doing? 

Lots of Big Local projects are intergenerational and investment in the next generation is an important part of the Big Local legacy. In the last month, we have seen Big Local areas working hard to support and protect the most vulnerable residents from the harshest realities of the current crisis, including children and young people.   

Providing activities, games, toys and fun things to do at home matters. Not only can it take the pressure off families, but it can also make them laugh, have fun, keep them active, engaged and help them feel connected to the outside world.  

This is especially valuable at a time when lots of people are feeling anxious. 

Big Local areas have been funding and delivering activity packs and resources to children at home. People’s Empowerment Alliance of Custom House (PEACH) in London delivered over 70 activity packs to children in their area  

Ramsey Million, based in Cambridgeshire, left Easter packs for children on doorsteps across the area containing free activities they found onlinechildren’s heritage trail (and some treats).  

Birchfield and Welsh House Farm Big Locals in Birmingham distributed art packs to children and families in their areas, which included instructions on how to make their own paper toys and games, and music at home (both areas are part of the Creative Civic Change programme, so perhaps no surprises there!)  

Being online and having access to the internet has become more important now than ever. We have already seen how some Big Local areaare using digital tools to keep the community connected and move their activities online.  

Ansley Village, New Arley and OId Arley (Leys Millionnaires) in North Warwickshire have moved their craft club for children and young people online so people can takepart remotely.  We have also seen numerous areas move youth clubs online too.  

Big Local areas are also using the internet to share online resources and activities with families in their area. Marsh and Micklefield in High Wycombe have shared resources for children and young people through their social media and website and have collated a list of online learning resources to support families with home schooling. In addition to this, they have also offered games and craft materials directly to families at home.  

Working with others 

Big Local areas around the country have been working hard to get food to those most in need, but some have also been using their connections with local food banks, charities and schools to identify the families who could benefit most from extra support.  

Heart of Pitsea in Essex deliver regular supplies to local food bankswhich often include activities for the children, teenagers and adults accessing the food banks.   

In addition to providing food bags through Fareshare (a charity redistributing surplus food to local charities and community groups)Greatfield Big Local in Hull have been filling bags with reading books, writing materials and educational toys for families . Recognising that adults, particularly those who may be vulnerable, might like colouring in too, they have also included colouring books for adults. They are also planning to work with local schools to help identify more families that could benefit from these packs. 

This blog is part of a series looking at how Big Local areas are supporting their community during COVID-19 and how different areas have responded to a particular challenge.