Changemakers’ local responses to a global pandemic`

24 Feb, 2021

Family’s Coronavirus Response Fund was set up to help our global network of Changemaker organisations support their local communities through the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Family launched the £100,000 fund in April, inviting proposals from Changemakers who could work with children and families in their communities to help them through this crisis. The first 15 proposals received reached the £100,000 limit, so Family’s Secretariat decided to make a further £50,000 available. The full amount has now been distributed to 22 Changemakers, who have immediately put the fund to good use.

Although the pandemic has been a truly global issue, the challenge it presents varies in every country. The ability of Changemakers to use local insights and expertise to serve their own communities is a key strength of our alliance. Thanks to your donations, we’ve been able to support Changemakers to address these local needs, whether improving coping mechanisms for children, or maintaining counselling services.

Educating communities

Several of our Changemaker organisations, including Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens in Brazil, Farm Orphan Support Trust in Zimbabwe and Children Assistance Program in Liberia, have produced materials to educate communities on coronavirus. These materials gave information on subjects including hygiene and preventing transmission, identifying symptoms, and what to do if the virus is suspected. This has helped reach out to audiences who might otherwise not have received these vital details about how to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

Finding new ways to deliver services

A key focus for many Changemakers has been how to maintain crucial services like counselling since lockdown restrictions have been preventing their usual face-to-face delivery. Several Changemakers, such as ChildLinK in Guyana, have turned to remote alternatives, enabling children experiencing abuse to have access to counselling online and by phone. They also provided online training and telephone counselling for adults who are experiencing parenting challenges during the pandemic.

Semya in Kyrgyzstan is another Changemaker which adopted a virtual approach, creating a group of dedicated psychologists and social workers to provide distanced support for children, families and staff.

Being versatile and responsive in how they work has allowed Changemakers to continue providing these lifeline services to the children and families they work with.

Identifying vulnerable groups

Changemakers are aware that the challenging circumstances of the pandemic could pose an increased risk to vulnerable groups, and are taking proactive steps to prevent issues from flaring up. In Sri Lanka, the Foundation for Innovative Social Development is working with 700 families who are affected by the shutdown of tea plantations, using creative tools such as board games to strengthen relationships and reduce violence.

Butterflies, a Changemaker in India, carried out a survey to understand the situation for vulnerable families who haven’t returned to rural areas and may not have access to government support. This work helped them to design a plan that will avoid families being alienated any further.

Looking beyond lockdown

Changemakers are already looking ahead at issues which will need to be addressed as the year progresses. Voice of Children in Nepal will analyse the experience of children living on the street or in care homes to identify and address any instances of abuse. Projeto Legal in Brazil is another organisation which will work to ensure that any cases of abuse are processed through the justice system. In spite of the significant challenges presented by coronavirus, with your support, our alliance of Changemaker organisations around the world continues to serve their communities in new and innovative ways.

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