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Majority of NI parents unaware of Covid-19 support: survey

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Charlene Brooks of Parenting NI

Charlene Brooks of Parenting NI

Charlene Brooks of Parenting NI

Almost two-thirds of parents believe Stormont has not done enough to inform them of the support available during the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey suggests.

Parenting NI, which provides free support for parents across Northern Ireland, ran the survey - Parenting in a Pandemic - from April 23 until May 11, with 439 people taking part.

The survey revealed that 78% of parents either agreed or strongly agreed that the crisis has been difficult for them and their families, while 74% agreed that it had been tough for their children.

A high number of parents (63%) also suggested they were unaware of any support available, believing that Stormont had not done enough to inform them.

Parents were particularly concerned about stress, the emotional impact and the loss of traditional routines, such as struggling to maintain bedtimes and structure during the day.

Home schooling was another major cause of concern for parents, the survey found in its results, which were released yesterday.

Half of parents felt that provision for their child's education had not be adequate during lockdown, with many describing feelings of guilt or anxiety about balancing home working and home schooling.

Parents also suggested they were concerned about children falling behind as a result of lack of formal education. They were also unsure as to whether schools should be one of the first settings to return after lockdown, with 42% agreeing that schools should return and 58% feeling that they should not.

Chief executive of Parenting NI, Charlene Brooks, said it was very concerning that many parents across the country were unaware of the support available to them.

"Parents facing additional challenges such as lack of access to devices and poor internet provision, concerns about impact of isolation on mental health, and parents of children with additional needs have been hardest hit and in need of more support," she stated.

"Parenting NI are suggesting that more should be done to make parents aware of existing help."

While that majority of parents who took part in the survey are struggling, just under 20% suggested that the lockdown had been a positive experience for their families.

Some parents indicated that this unique period had offered them an unexpected opportunity to spend more time together and enjoyed strengthening their family bond.

Reflecting on this, Ms Brooks added: "I think in these most unusual times it has been encouraging to see families find the positives in this new way of life we have been adjusting to, spending more quality time together, sharing meals and generally bonding more as a family.

"At Parenting NI we would encourage families to consider if any of these positives can be maintained, even after the crisis is over. We hope that it might be an opportunity for employers, schools and families to work together to consider changes to working and education patterns and encourage a stronger value to be placed on parenting and families, which will have a positive impact on society as a whole."

Belfast Telegraph