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News Report Page 9 of 9
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Barnardo's declares 'state of emergency' as number of children needing foster care during Coronavirus pandemic rises by 48% in North West

THE number of children needing foster care in the North West has risen by 48% during the Coronavirus pandemic, while the number of people looking to become foster parents plummeted by nearly ½ compared to the same period in 2019, according to children's charity Barnardo's. From 1 March to 23 April 2020, there were 585 referrals for foster care made to Barnardo's North West Fostering Service, a figure which shot up from 395 for the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity in the North West fell by 46%, from 39 to 21. This picture is replicated across Barnardo's fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with 2,349 referrals for foster care made in total to the charity between 1 March and 23 April 2020, compared to 1,629 for the same period in 2019. The number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity across the 3 nations fell from 302 to 161, that's a dramatic drop of 47%. Barnardo's says this has created a 'state of emergency' as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect may have to wait for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, tens of children referred to Barnardo's will not be placed with a family.

Rebecca Quigley, Operations Manager for Barnardo's North West Fostering Service said:- "The Coronavirus pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest, with many reaching crisis point. This has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family, while fewer adults are coming forward as potential foster carers. Barnardo's has over 100 years' experience bringing vulnerable children together with loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. Barnardo's is with carers every step of the way, providing ongoing training and support throughout the whole fostering journey, from the 1st enquiry, through the approval process, to when carers meet their 1st foster child and beyond. You will have a dedicated social worker and you'll also receive financial support, including a carer's allowance. Today, there are hundreds of children across the country who have been referred to Barnardo's and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. If you're over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today."

The charity believes that the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has increased pressure on vulnerable families, with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health all leading to family breakdown. Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. These pressures will likely impact more families as the crisis continues. At the same time Barnardo's believes that the change in circumstances experienced by many because of COVID-19 and uncertainty about the future has resulted in a drop in enquiries being made to the charity from people looking to foster.

Barnardo's is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to get in touch and consider fostering a child. Barnardo's welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including single people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.  The charity also wants to make it clear that foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo's, and will also be eligible for financial support including:- carers' allowance. To find out more about becoming a foster carer or the support Barnardo's can offer, call Barnardo's North West Fostering Service on:- 0151 488 0822 / 0800 0277 280 or visit:- Barnardos.Org.UK.

Annual Climate Change Report welcomed by CLA

THE Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published its:- 'Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament.' Commenting on the report, CLA President Mark Bridgeman said:- "The CLA is committed to helping the Government reach the net-zero target by 2050. Through the Agriculture Bill, Environment Bill, Tree Strategy and Peatland Strategy there is a fantastic opportunity to transform the sector and the way we use our land to reduce emissions and increase sequestration. Uncertainties about Brexit, trade negotiations and Covid-19 disruptions have delayed legislation and the development of policies for agriculture and land use that will support climate action. Farmers and land managers are increasingly looking at what they can do, but until there are clear policies and programmes for woodland creation and woodland management, alongside programmes to help shift the sector to low carbon farming, the progress will be slow. Addressing GHG emissions from agriculture and using nature to sequester and store carbon, and providing renewable energy, has many benefits for climate, nature and the economy. But this needs clear and long term polices, and funding for programmes, that will encourage farmers and landowners to change how they farm and their land use. The agriculture and land use sector can deliver climate action which also supports the Covid-19 economic recovery. Opportunities for new jobs in forestry and woodland industry, environmental services and food production, such as when the CLA called for thousands of workers to come forward and help feed the nation to make up a predicted 80,000 shortfall in agriculture labour to work on farms during harvest. Investing in agriculture, forestry and environment presents opportunities for economic growth, but it is vital that this is not undone by trade agreements that do not drive global environmental standards."

PCC awards ₤500,000 of extra Covid-19 funding to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence

24 organisations which support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence across Merseyside are set to benefit from a share of nearly ₤500,000 of extra funding, secured by the Region's Police Commissioner and made available in response to the epidemic. Jane Kennedy was awarded a total of ₤498,885 to fund services supporting vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 crisis, as part of the Ministry of Justice's recently announced package of additional funding for victims. Following a detailed assessment process, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has announced the 24 charities and social enterprises which have been allocated a share of the extra funding, which will help them meet the additional costs caused by the pandemic and to cope with any surge in demand. From the funding, the Commissioner has awarded ₤231,000 to the Region's 5 Local Authorities, who will in turn provide this funding to 8 domestic abuse support services which they are already working with in their own areas, including:- Local Solutions and the Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service, Tomorrow's Women Wirral, Sefton Women's and Children's Aid (SWACA) and Torus in St Helens. A further ₤10,000 has been allocated to the PCC's Victim Care Merseyside partners, Victim Support and Savera UK, to enhance the support they offer to vulnerable victims and victims of honour-based crimes respectively.

A further ₤137,400 will be shared between 8 additional domestic abuse services, not previously commissioned by the PCC or the Local Authorities, to enhance the support services they provide. This includes more than ₤15,000 for women's refuge AMADUDU in Liverpool, ₤25,000 to Sefton based women's organisation Venus, which provides counselling and support services to domestic abuse victims, and more than ₤23,000 to established women's mental health and domestic abuse charity the Chrysalis Centre for Change, in St Helens.

An additional ₤120,500 has been allocated to 7 organisations working to support victims of sexual violence, with approximately ₤47,000 of that money being awarded to RASA Merseyside and RASASC, who already jointly deliver the PCC's pan-Merseyside dedicated aftercare support service for survivors of rape and sexual assault. A further ₤9,000 has been allocated to social enterprise Catch22 to help them deliver their crucial work supporting victims of child sexual exploitation.

Other beneficiaries include Birkenhead-based charity WEB who provide 1 to 1 therapeutic counselling services for men and women who have been victimised by sexual violence or domestic abuse, social enterprise PSS to help run their Ruby project, which offers a package of support for vulnerable victims, and Changing Lives who will use the funding to provide additional outreach work to support sex workers who are further at risk during the crisis.

Granby Somali Women's were the only organisation to receive funding to deliver services to victims of both domestic abuse and sexual violence. They received a total of ₤31,950 to increase the hours they can offer their services and to buy additional IT equipment to improve their remote response.

Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said:- "I am pleased to be able to announce this additional funding for 24 fantastic charities and social enterprises which are doing crucial work supporting some of the most vulnerable victims of crime across Merseyside. These 24 organisations have been operating tirelessly throughout this global pandemic to continue to provide guidance, care and support to victims of some of the most harmful and damaging crimes. Sadly, some of these organisations have already seen an increase in demand for their services, while others have struggled with staff absences or a lack of appropriate equipment to work remotely. Supporting victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence is incredibly demanding work at any time, let alone when exacerbated by the extraordinary challenges created by Covid-19. This much needed additional funding will help these charities and social enterprises not only to continue to deliver these essential services, but hopefully also to enhance the support they can provide during these testing times, ensuring vulnerable victims are not left to suffer alone and can access vital support as they cope and recover from their traumatic experiences."

The funding, which was ring fenced into 3 separate funds; domestic abuse services already commissioned by the PCC, domestic abuse services not commissioned by the PCC and sexual violence services; will run until the end of October 2020. The money is part of a wider ₤76m funding package provided by the Government with the aim of supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, vulnerable children and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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