As lockdown in England begins to ease, mental health charities have warned of a shortage of resources to cope with the number of young people that have witnessed or suffered domestic abuse during the pandemic. Having seen a spike in calls crisis centres over the last 12 weeks, which saw reported incidents increase by 25%, services are concerned that the lasting impact on child witnesses’ mental health could be catastrophic without sufficient early intervention. 

To combat this, Birmingham-based Living Well UK consortium, has received a grant of £10,000 from Birmingham City Council to pilot a targeted support programme for those aged between 11-13, who have witnessed or suffered from domestic abuse during lockdown. 

Piloted by Living Well UK member, Citizen Coaching and Counselling – which has received an additional £20,000 funding from Heart of England Community Foundation – the latest programme will utilise the experience of qualified child and young person therapists based throughout the consortium. Supporting Citizen Coaching and Counselling will be fellow members, Sport 4 Life and Spring to Life, with the trio curating a dedicatedtrauma treatment plan. 

The vital service will be free, and will be available to young people across Birmingham and Solihull. The programme will be tailored to each individual case, allowing them to talk about the problems they face but also enabling them to communicate with other young people who may be in the same situation. 

Holly Beedon, Clinical Lead at Living Well UK, said:

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on people’s mental health across the board, but this is exacerbated in young people; not least those who are already in a vulnerable home environment. The increase in domestic violence cases during the pandemic is going to have a huge and lasting domino effect in a post-Covid world, and this will be felt acutely by the children in those situations.

“We are so thankful for the support for this initiative: it is going to provide a vital lifeline for so many young people across the West Midlands who need our support. It is crucial that pathways like this are facilitated now, to prevent cases become critical in the future”

As well as psychotherapy services from Citizen Coaching and Counselling, the programme will offer opportunities in the Sport 4 Life mentoring programme, which will provide young people with a mentor and access to sporting activities. This will further be complemented by ecotherapy treatments and access to qualified therapists via Spring to Life’s service too.

To find out more about the programme to support young people, head to https://livingwellconsortium.com.