Coronavirus: Helpline launched for BAME families
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
A new support helpline for Black and Asian communities hit by Covid-19 has been launched by children’s charity Barnardo’s.
As the UK continues to cope with lockdown measures, ‘Boloh’, the first helpline specifically supporting vulnerable BAME families, will be on hand to offer support and advice.
Boloh, which means ‘speak’ or ‘be invited to speak’ in Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, will provide therapeutic support from trained specialists who speak a range of languages and are from a diverse set of cultural backgrounds.
The service aims to offer a lifeline to communities struggling to deal with issues, such as sickness and bereavement, rising hate crime, and loss of support services due to the pandemic, on top of existing inequalities, including poverty, overcrowded housing and physical and mental health problems.
Barnardo’s CEO, Javed Khan, said, ‘As thousands of vulnerable children and families across the UK bear the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis, the urgent need for specialist advice and support has never been greater.’
He added, ‘I know from personal experience that families in Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Black people are four times more likely to die of the virus compared to white people, while Covid and recession are worsening existing inequalities. As a result, children are suffering bereavement, mental health problems and fear for the future - yet many remain hidden from essential support services and have been left to suffer in silence.’
The Boloh helpline will signpost queries to a range of different organisations such as Citizens Advice, which can help with families experiencing financial problems, and also to local community groups.
See, Hear, Respond
Evidence from Barnardo’s flagship ‘See, Hear, Respond’ therapeutic support service in England, funded by the Department of Education, has found that BAME children have suffered increasing levels of trauma and are afraid for their futures due to the pandemic.
Three quarters of these children, young people and families reported an increase in discrimination and hate crime within schools and communities, while mental health, isolation and loneliness, as well as barriers back into education, were the main reasons for contacting the service.
Recent research by the Resolution Foundation shows that BAME workers are more likely to be made unemployed post-furlough.
A survey of 6,000 adults found over one in five BAME workers who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed in September, compared to nine per cent of the general population.
Recent research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also shows that around 12 million people in Britain are likely to struggle with bills or loan repayments amid the continued economic disruption triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Those from BAME backgrounds are most likely to be affected, with 37 per cent within this group taking a financial hit to their income.
Meanwhile, official statistics show that Black people are around four times more likely to die from Covid-19-related illnesses than white people of the same age. And nearly double the number of children from BAME families are in poverty compared with white children.
These children are 1.5 times more likely to be young carers, with little access to support over the last six months, leaving many to fall behind at school, as they stay at home to look after and protect loved ones from the virus.
- The helpline number for children and parents and carers from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds is 0800 151 2605. Staff speak English, Urdu or Hindi. Specialist advisors are also available via webchat at https://helpline.barnardos.org.uk