With much of the UK back in lockdown, children and families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are being reminded that there is a specialist helpline available to support them through the pandemic.
Boloh is run by Barnardo’s and is the first helpline specifically supporting vulnerable children and families from these communities, which have been hardest hit by Covid-19.
Issues the trained advisers have helped with so far include children calling with worries about the future due to school disruption, mental health and wellbeing problems, coping with sickness and bereavement, and money worries due to unemployment.
And the UK’s leading children’s charity fears the combination of the lockdown, a long dark winter and the spread of the virus will exacerbate these problems – but help is available.
The Boloh helpline provides therapeutic support, a live webchat facility, and a lifeline to communities struggling to deal with issues.
Boloh also provides advice, and support from trained specialist advisors and therapists – who are from a diverse set of cultural backgrounds and speak a range of languages.
It also refers queries to a range of different organisations such as Citizen Advice, which can help with families experiencing financial problems, and also to local community groups.
Boloh is a word used in many languages including Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, meaning ‘speak’ or to be invited to speak.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“With the UK still firmly in the grip of this killer virus, vulnerable children and families from communities bearing the brunt of the crisis are in desperate need of specialist support.
“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 economic factors are worsening existing inequalities.
“And the calls we receive on the Boloh helpline show just how difficult it has been for families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Our advisers have been helping people cope with an overwhelming number of deaths, unemployment, increased stress and mental health difficulties and poverty. The helpline is providing a lifeline as it is reaching the neediest and providing them with much needed support.
“I fear these problems will only increase in the coming months so am reminding people about Boloh and letting them know they don’t have to suffer in silence.
“Barnardo’s is proud to be at the forefront of responding to the challenges faced by vulnerable children and young people. In these uniquely challenging times we are working in partnership with Government, business and other charities to support those who need us most.”
The helpline number is 08001 512605 or visit https://helpline.barnardos.org.uk for information, and to use the webchat facility.
It is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 8pm and on weekends between 10am and 3pm.
The Boloh helpline is the result of a partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, (NET) whose funds are ring-fenced to target specific at-risk groups across the UK.
The £900,000 grant will be drawn from £20 million pledged to the Coronavirus Appeal by the COVID-19 Support Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings industry.
The Fund aims to support those hardest-hit by COVID-19, including families and children living in poverty.