“You are a lifeline to our supported families. You’ll never know how important it is to be able to say to someone in desperate need that we can help and this will get sorted. It breaks down barriers, builds trust and keeps the communication going.”
This week, we caught up with Lisa-Marie from Croydon Council, who works on the Early Support Programme, to find out how lockdown is impacting the families they support, and how Stripey Stork has been able to help.
Lisa-Marie’s team support families with children under the age of five who have complex medical needs and life limiting conditions. Currently, the families are either shielding or in full lockdown mode, making their already difficult situation now unimaginable. Since week three, these families have been really struggling as the reality of the situation has sunk in. To add to their worries, many have extremely limited finances, some of whom have recently lost their jobs. Debts are spiralling and it can feel like the walls are closing in on them.
Lisa-Marie told us about one family, whose 2 year old girl is sadly at home on palliative care. Her family are in isolation, but at the beginning of lockdown had run out of nappies. Mum had little choice but to venture out to get supplies. Unable to find any locally in stock because families had been stockpiling, she was forced to go further afield on public transport and ended up in Tooting (from Croydon) two hours later! This journey unwittingly put her family at risk, but such was her desperation that she felt she had no choice.
After hearing this story from Mum, Lisa-Marie got in touch with us and has now collected a bulk supply of nappies and wipes from our warehouse, enough for 30 families. She told us how delivering a supply of nappies can mean so much to them: “It lets them know that they haven’t been forgotten and help is out there”. It enables them to focus on caring and spending time with their children. Many have been coming to the door with their children to greet her from a distance and giving her a ‘virtual’ hug.
Lisa-Marie was also able to tell us about another family we’d recently been able to help with a bespoke request. The five year old boy is severely autistic and usually has a personal carer to help Mum with taking him out; it’s not safe without her as he has no sense of road safety and zero risk awareness. Now that the family are in isolation, that hands-on help, and respite or Mum, has disappeared overnight.
We found out this little boy adores trains, he loves watching them for hours on end, so we were so pleased to be able to give him his very own train set. A luxury this family would never have been able to afford, but one which is going to prove extremely useful in keeping him occupied and stimulated indoors during this time. We’ve also included some activity packs for him and his 10 year old sister, which will hopefully give the whole family some calm time.
To know that our service is so easily accessible means it’s a lifeline service for them. She stressed the importance of how, when a parent calls upset or needing something, they know they can turn to Stripey Stork and we’ll be able to help, quickly and with quality items.
Without Stripey Stork’s support, she explains how it’s difficult to imagine how they’d be able to provide the same level of care. Funding requests would need to be made for each individual case and, with cuts on already limited resources, she fears that would be the end of the line. Their job is to support these families and make their difficult lives easier, and to not be able to do that “would be devastating”.
She modestly referred to herself as being only the ‘middle person’ in this process – connecting families with the items and services they need. But after having the pleasure of speaking with her, it left us in no doubt that she is so much more than this. We are just pleased that we can play a part and make her job that little bit easier, as she continues to make such as difference to these families’ lives.
We’d like to thank Lisa-Marie for taking the time to feedback to us and shining a light on the importance of our COVID-19 Appeal for the local families who need our support at this difficult time.