Life under lockdown #4

Lisa Gavin cropped

“With the children in lockdown and not going to school, the families are all stuck in one room, going stir crazy. It is affecting their mood and their sleep.”  

This week, we caught up with Lisa Gavin from Children & Family Health Surrey to find out how lockdown is impacting the families they support, and how Stripey Stork has been able to help.

Lisa’s community nursing team supports families with children of all ages who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, or members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community. Surrey has the fourth largest GRT population in the UK, estimated at around 10,000-12,000. These groups struggle to access the usual healthcare services and often have much poorer health as a result.

The team covers a wide range of healthcare issues including: infant feeding and development, immunisations, teeth, healthy eating, safeguarding, mental health, domestic violence and chronic illness.

Lisa’s team regularly connects with Stripey Stork and they recently contacted us after visiting a Traveller site that needed essential items for babies and children. With lockdown restrictions in place, every baby and child was wearing clothes that were too small for them.

Lisa told us about one family she is supporting, where one of the children has a health condition so the family is shielding. Unable to take the children to the play places they would usually visit, the family is confined to their caravan and Mum spends much of the day keeping the children safe by sitting them on her lap. The restriction in their movements meant that the children were showing signs of developmental delay. The family doesn’t have running water and has been using hand sanitiser gels to keep their hands clean. All of these factors meant that Mum hadn’t been able to start introducing family foods, recommended from six months. Lisa explained how important it is to be able to introduce family foods in a safe way, as this sets children up for healthy habits later on.

Lisa asked Stripey Stork for two foldaway highchairs for easy storage. She also requested a little table and chairs so Mum could set up outside activities or mealtimes in the fresh air. Mum will now be able to start introducing family foods, keeping the children safe and stimulated.

Lisa’s team also supports homeless families who have been placed in temporary accommodation until something more permanent is found. This is usually just one room with a shared bathroom and kitchen facilities with people they do not know, which is a cause of further anxiety during this pandemic. Sadly, lockdown means that the families are having to live in these very confined conditions for extended periods of time, with no end in sight.

Stripey Stork has been able to provide books, games and stationery for over 100 of these families, to help alleviate some of the boredom and support homeschooling during this difficult time, as well as baby and hygiene essentials.

Lisa says that when she calls a family, the initial response may be “we’re fine”, but as they get talking sometimes other issues are revealed, such as poor mental health or domestic violence. She explains how working with Stripey Stork makes her team’s job so much easier:

“…by being able to take some of the families’ stress away. Giving them something nice and making them feel a bit special is very valuable. Apart from fulfilling the obvious practical needs that the families have, it opens the door and helps to build trust.”  

We’d like to thank Lisa for taking the time to feedback to us and shine a light on the importance of our COVID-19 Appeal. We appreciate the amazing work that Lisa and her team do every day, and even more so with the current restrictions in place. They make such a difference to the families they support and  we are pleased to be able to help with this critical need.


Children & Family Health Surrey services are provided under one contract by three established NHS providers: CSH Surrey, First Community Health & Care and Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Trust.

Follow Children & Family Health Surrey on Twitter @CFHS_Surrey to keep updated with their news.

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