‘Children faced unprecedented challenges’: Saving Lancashire’s lost youth generation post-Covid

According to The Children's Society, the coronavirus pandemic ‘disrupted the life of every child in the country’.

The national charity described the once-in-a-century event as ‘not only an unprecedented public health emergency, but also a challenge our society and our economy have not seen in peacetime.’ As a result, the stakes were understandably high, requiring efforts defined by people’s willingness to go above and beyond.

Step up Lancashire’s Looked After Children team.

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Part of Lancashire County Council’s raft of community-based support via HCRG Care Group’s Lancashire Healthy Young People and Families Service, the Looked After Children team provides home visits, health advice, and school nursing care for five- to 19-year-olds. When lockdown struck just over two years ago, they sprang into action.

Looked After Children's Safeguarding Stars

"I’m extremely proud of the way our teams responded to the pandemic so that we were able to continue to support families across Lancashire during this difficult time,” says Michelle Lee, the Regional Director of HCRG Care Group in Lancashire. “The additional work that our Looked After Children team carried out made a really positive difference to some of the most vulnerable children.”

In response to lockdown, the team created a package of support to help Looked After Children aged between 16 and 18 who were living in semi-independent accommodation, with some recipients living as far away as London. From food parcels and regular well-being check-ins to welfare assessments and health checks, the team were an invaluable lifeline.

“This fabulous work, making a difference and safeguarding lives, has been shared across England as good practice,” says Catherine Randall, Associate Director of Safeguarding at NHS England, who presented the team with NHS Safeguarding Star badges in recognition of their work.

"It was a pleasure and honour to present a national safeguarding recognition star to the Looked After Children team in Lancashire,” Catherine adds. “[They] went above and beyond to respond to the pandemic so that they were able to continue to support families during this very difficult time.”

Looked After Children

Just one of many children's community services on offer in Lancashire, the Looked After Children team is part of HCRG Care Group, which was founded in 2006 before going on to become one of the UK’s leading independent providers of health and care services across primary care, urgent care, sexual health, dermatology, adult social care, and well-being.

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Funded by Lancashire County Council, the service has emerged from the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic with a raft of commendation for their efforts, with County Councillor Cosima Towneley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for children and families, particularly effusive in her praise.

"The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns meant that children and young people faced unprecedented challenges,” says Cllr Towneley. “The Looked After Children Team puts in so much work to support them and I'm pleased their efforts have been recognised.

"They used their initiative and creativity to work in new ways, focusing on tackling issues such as loneliness, isolation, and ensuring young people had the right support to bring out the best in them for future outcomes,” she adds. “The team and all the staff showed great strength and determination when faced with adversity.”

Looked After Children