It is time to recover, to rebuild and to listen to our most vulnerable.
At the end of March 2020, our lives changed overnight. As adults, we have struggled at points to navigate through this period of on-going uncertainty and cope with the multitude of questions our minds throw at us each day. Is this the same for children? Who like us, are experiencing exactly what we are facing, they too must be wondering if the ‘old normal’ has gone forever.
As adults, we can rationalise. We can use our years of life experiences to apply the necessary coping strategies to our daily struggles. That is why our voices are heard in the media and within our homes and schools as the decision making force, hence the mantra that every child on earth has heard, “adults know best”. It is also true that children see, hear, model and behave as a direct result of their surroundings.
It is time to listen carefully to our children. Four million children are now living in poverty and since the start of the virus to now, that number has increased by one hundred thousand. Our most vulnerable already had a challenging and difficult existence and since the end of March and the closures of our schools for some, that life has become far more challenging and even more frightening. Those that have thrived being at home during this time may in turn struggle to leave the comforts and security of home schooling. For those who have suffered because of school closures, we need to give them the chance to address and overcome whatever this trauma may have caused. It is clear regardless of circumstance that all children need to be encouraged to talk and adults must listen.
Back in June, the initial feedback from parents as the year 6 children were reintroduced back into their school communities was one of deep concern. Evidence gathered from the schools taking part in this project, was that some of these children over the last few weeks of lockdown, refused to leave their room, not wanting to see anyone and so initially coming back into school was a huge struggle, resulting in these children being very upset and emotional.
‘A Sense of Lockdown’ was created to work in school and remotely to ensure no child was left behind, that the children were encouraged to share their stories, immerse themselves in creative expression and ultimately be given a platform to talk so that adults would listen and act if needed.
After all, mental health and support services were already over stretched even before the pandemic. If you read the latest research by Mind it states in three separate pieces of research that care services are unable to support thousands of people every year, at a time when they need help the most. In addition, calls to domestic violence helplines have increased to one per hour from children, up by over 40% during this time of lockdown.
Education should not be exempt from adapting to the ‘new normal’ because if it does not, the negative effects on children now and in the future could be catastrophic.
The arts are so valuable to children at this time, encouraging self- reflection, communication and expression. These subjects MUST become a big part of schools curriculum when all children return in September 2020. The synergy between the recovery curriculum and the creative curriculum is evident and all children will benefit from the positive outcomes which are multifaceted in their therapeutic and artistic benefits.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for believing in this project and enabling it to happen. I would like to thank Guy Smith and Newgate Communications who have been helping share Arts Insight’s work on a pro bono basis during lockdown. Finally to everyone at REAch2 who have supported, championed and committed to this valuable process and have helped us create this powerful end result: A Sense of Lockdown Short Film