“Children fleeing domestic abuse are high need and in trauma already, let alone the layer of anxiety COVID-19 is bringing into their world at the moment.”
This week, we heard from Emma B from Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid (RWBA) to find out how lockdown is impacting the families they support, and how Stripey Stork has been able to help.
RWBA provide a refuge for women and children fleeing from domestic violence, and support them in rebuilding their lives. Finding sanctuary in a refuge is only the start. The children have already had to leave everything they know – friends, family, possessions, home – and, depending on their age, may have little comprehension as to why, or even worse understand all too well.
Stripey Stork regularly supports RWBA, providing them with the practical items their families need when they arrive, and continue to need as they settle into this temporary life. The refuge know that they can rely on our ability to be responsive to their needs.
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting us all but has been particularly tough for the children living at the refuge. Lockdown means that they must all remain within the walls of the refuge and can longer go to school, where they’ve just started settling in and seeing their new friends. Emma explained:
“When children feel stressed and overwhelmed, they almost always regress. They may burst into tears more frequently. They may be crankier than usual, needing reassurance more frequently and having angry outbursts. They may well struggle to sleep and have nightmares.”
A few weeks ago, Emma asked us if we could help prepare some ‘calming boxes’ that the children could turn to when they were feeling anxious or distressed. She suggested a list of items that would help the children to relax or provide them with coping strategies.
We were pleased that we already had some of the items already in stock at our warehouse – cuddly toys, snuggly blankets and calming books with a rhyming or soothing story were included to provide comfort. Bubbles were added to encourage deep breathing, along with water bottles to encourage the children to stay hydrated.
The next task was to approach our contacts who may be able to help. Gibsons Games kindly donated a variety of jigsaw puzzles and games – we particular loved the Be Bold. Be Brave. Your Are Awesome. Be You jigsaw.
Bach Rescue Remedy pastilles, which we thought were the perfect touch, were donated by Nelsons. Both donations are very much appreciated and we cannot think of a better home for these products.
Our talented and crafty Jenny, aka the Stripey Stork Treasurer, produced the most beautiful lavender filled mini pillows.
We were able to use some of the funds from our COVID-19 Appeal to source the remainder of the suggested items and add a little inspiration of our own. Having this fund in reserve at these unprecedented times, means that we can readily purchase items for worthwhile ad hoc projects such as this. We shopped around to source retailers who were still delivering and had the best prices, and were able to buy:
- Journals and pens
- Colouring books/pens/pencils
- Colour changing stress balls
- Putty – for fidgeting and stress relief
- Playdough and tools
- Playing cards
- Copies of a book about coping with your feelings How are you feeling today? by Molly Potter
A few weeks on, the refuge got in touch to tell us how the boxes had gone down with the families living there:
“Thank you ever so much for the amazing boxes. They are beautifully presented and hold so many wonderful and helpful items. We’ve been able to give them out to a number of children so far, who have recently left us to move into their new homes, to help not only with COVID anxieties but the transition of moving from Refuge to their new home which can be very difficult and scary for the children.”
“One of the boys in our care has used his so much to calm and relax him through all the changes, he especially uses the lavender cushions to help him go to sleep. He also loves the squishy ball as it helps with his constant need to fidget. His sister enjoys the colouring to escape from her brothers and their craziness.”
“The boxes are such a healing and supportive aid to our children and it means so much to have these items to support the children through this massive change.”
It’s wonderful to see that they are serving their purpose in restoring calm and distracting the children, until their storm is weathered. Thank you to everyone who contributed, including those who have already donated to our ongoing COVID-19 Appeal.