In these difficult times, it is more important than ever to care for and support each other. This spirit is especially lived by our network all over Europe. We invite you to explore the different services and information offered by COFACE member organisations for families and individuals in the era of COVID-19. Let’s take it alphabetically….
Our Austrian member KFÖ collects and shares valuable resources and services. They will add once a day from Monday to Friday something new on their dedicated webpage. It will gather a colourful mixture of relevant information, exciting background talks, handicraft and leisure tips, recipes and life hacks especially for families.
From the start of the pandemic, both Belgian organisations – La Ligue des Familles and Gezinsbond – have produced content to help families with the challenges during COVID-19. Their information and tips addressed questions such as: how do you bridge the gap between school and home? What is it like when you think your child has COVID-19? What to do when you are stuck at home with several adolescents?
Together, Gezinsbond and La Ligue des familles launched a petition to request specific COVID-19 parental leave for working parents. After one week they gathered 16.000 signatures. As parents struggle more and more during the lockdown to combine work and childcare, a additional leave is needed to relieve some burden and at the same time keep up financial stability of the families. Since the start of school and kindergarten closures, the organisations have advocated tirelessly for more support for families. They questioned Belgium’s National Security Council on this subject and spoke to the group leaders in the national parliament. More about the petition here (NL) and here (FR).
Furhtermore, La Ligue de Familles asked parents in a survey whether this period of confinement was conducive or detrimental to families. More than 3,500 parents expressed their views on their children’s child care arrangements, their needs, their satisfaction with family arrangements and the supports they expect. See the full results here.
A few months later, their counterpart Gezinsbond launched the online survey #jongerenovercorona. They asked 44.000 children and young people on how they experience the corona crisis. The survey included questions about home, school work, contact with friends, how they feel, what they are worried about and what helps in quarantine times. You can read the answers to the large-scale online survey #jongerenovercorona here.
New times require new solutions, therefore Gezinsbond has developed some online alternatives to their cancelled services: 6 webinars with parental advice, lots of articles with advice for parents in corona-times on goedgezind.be, online community of parents on Facebook, digital games for families during holidays, digital grandparent/grandchildren game and more. The Belgian organisation has continued working on family policy.
A small selection of their large number of achievements can be found here:
- To enhance work-life balance, Gezinsbond insisted on a leave system so that the combination became more feasible. With success: on our request, the federal government installed a corona leave scheme for parents better combination of working from home, caring for (young) children and helping children with their schoolwork. Between May 1 and august 31, parents with a child under the age of 12 can use the corona parental leave. There is also a comparable leave system for the self-employed. Children with disabilities can be older and foster families can also benefit from it. As many as 60,000 families have already taken advantage of this;
- Gezinsbond launched the proposal to the Flemish parliament and the social relief committee to use the social allowance in the growth package (= monthly allowance for children) to financially support families with children living in poverty in the aftermath of the corona crisis. Result: The Flemish government gives an extra benefit allowance to children in poor families;
- The organisation also conducted surveys about the impact of the corona crisis on families and it participated in a large survey among children and young people of the Children’s Rights Commissioner, the Knowledge Center for Children’s Rights and the Children’s Rights Coalition.
In Croatia our member Step by Step is in the process of shifting many of their services online. Especially their mental health counselling as everyone responds differently to stressful situations. Some feel overwhelmed or worried that the COVID-19 circumstances are affecting their ability to work or care for their family or need advice on how to handle the quarantine/self-isolation. It is open to anyone who seeks help of their trained and experienced professionals for mental health. You can find more information on their services as well as relevant information on the situation in Croatia here.
Women4Women Czech Republic are providing online relationship service counseling to provide tips to people in need, separated or divorced families, but also to friends and family so that they can help their loved ones. Experienced relationship experts, such as couples therapists, psychologists or mediators are ready to answer. See more here.
Our member in the north of Europe has an extensive list of information and services available. The Finnish Family Union Vaestoliitto has compiled input from experts on this webpage. The list is constantly updated and addresses topics such as: How to relieve anxiety caused by Corona virus? How to talk to a child about coronavirus? Coronavirus and the two homes of the child. Adults as well as young people also find possibilities to chat with experts online to discuss the coronavirus and interpersonal relationships, how to calm oneself down when the coronavirus situation is distressing or corona concerns in a young sexuality counseling chat.
You can see how that could look like in this blog post by expert Raisa Cacciatore who gives advices to parents on how do you support, hear, and comfort your child if your own heart is distracted by distress and distressing thoughts on the coronavirus.
Are you wondering about everyday, parenthood or relationship questions? Join a discussion with their expert without an appointment. An on call chat expert can give you support, advice and guidance. Chat every business day from 9.30-11.30 am to 9.30-11.30 –> www.hyvakysymys.fi/perhepulma-chat
Our many members are helping in many areas. UNAF France together with other partners created an app called FamiNum, so in times of closed schools and teleworking you and your family can create a family charter for a peaceful digital life.
APF France Handicap is helping persons with mental disabilities understand the current circumstances in Easy-to-Read. They provide and share useful information in Easy-to-Read, such as the certificate for going outside, which is needed at the moment during the lockdown in France. See here.
With the spread of Covid19, our French member Unapei remains more than ever mobilized in providing services to people with disabilities, their families and associations. Their teams shifted to online work and can be reached by email. Further, a national crisis unit linked to the Unapei regions ensures the circulation of information and feedback to alert the public authorities, such as the dissemination of national directives and the sharing of good practices. The local Unapei associations are mobilised to give their support and remain the local contact to be privileged. If you are a member of a family with a disabled person, you can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All information on Unapei’s actions and specific recommendations for disabled people, their relatives and associations can be consulted on their site which will be updated.
Unapei launched further the new website https://unisetsolidaires.unapei.org/. It’s an information website dedicated to COVID-19 and disability issues that brings together news, initiatives of Unapei associations and testimonials. Families and persons with disability can participate by sending written or filmed testimony. There are also easy-to-read documents to help persons and families better understand the situation.
School at home, family relationships, budget… the lockdown due to the of-19 epidemic has upset the lives of parents. In order to support them, the experts of the Unaf France are mobilising! This Facebook group was created to offer families with children expert advice, free and useful resources, key figures on all issues related to parenting. Join here. They also carried out an analysis about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the financial inclusion of families, with 5 key recommendations to prevent over-indebtedness of families in France.
Unaf France furthermore established an innovative mediation service for family carers confronted with increased number of conflicts during COVID. Faced with this crisis, which complicates family relations, UNAF and its partners have brought forward the launch of an innovative mediation service for family carers dealing with conflicts between members of their families surrounding issues of ageing, integration into a care home, inheritance, etc. This new service will be tested first in 12 UDAFs, then in 22, and then throughout France. More here.
Ahead of Europe Day on the 9th of May, the Association of Binational Families and Partnerships wrote an open letter to Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer to urge to open the borders so binational couples will be able to see each other again.
“The reintroduction of national borders, which throw us back to an almost forgotten time, led to a sudden separation for unmarried binational couples. The fall of the barriers passed through the couples, abruptly interrupting their relationship and abruptly ending their plans for life together for weeks. Especially in times of crisis people are dependent on closeness and support. Border closures deny these couples the emotional support that a love affair can provide. And in a Europe of open borders, they are extremely stressful and incomprehensible for these couples.” Read the full letter in German here.
Another measure from Greece to help families affected by the COVID-19 started. All licenced psychologists and social workers who voluntarily want to support families are trained by the University of Athens and are given the access to support by a 24/h. telephone help line for all those who need advice and help. KMOP has joined this effort by offering the whole working time of five psychologists who are full time employed by KMOP.
Our Hungarian member the Single Parent Association is in the process of shifting some services online. Tutoring and counselling is still available. A page further summarizes which public education institutions in each district and county seat can take care of children, and where and how to provide free child meals to those in need during the emergency caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. More here.
How can you stay in touch if you can’t meet? Our Irish member ICA had the idea to launch a writing competition. The competition runs for the next few months and their members are invited to share a great memory. Another way ICA wants to stay in touch with their members is via short films taken on the smart phone. Can you bake a cake? Draw or paint a picture, or sew something small. Anything can be shared through a short videos (only a couple of minutes) on their phones and be send to them by mail. Physical distancing is important, but staying interconnected socially is essential.
The Irish countrywomen’s association are further mobilising to support their community, fighting isolation by mobilising their sewing skills to support health sector workers. They called on its 8,000 members to make scrubs in an email circulated throughout the organisation.
To support families in this new reality, Pro Parents has joined forces with specialised partners such as TNO, Argo GGZ and IMH Nederland. Together they collect tips for working parents at home on https://proparents.nl/thuiswerk/
A specialised team of clinical psychologists, pedagogues and infant mental health specialists digitally assist parents. In this way we hold each other tightly together, now that keeping our distance is the new reality.
The pandemic in which we currently live is a time of greater fragility, where loneliness and isolation of the senior population are a concern of the Fundação LIGA. Feelings of fear and anguish take on significant proportions in this period, especially in this age group that is characterized as a risk group. Therefore, to minimize this impact, the Senior Club continues to maintain its partnership with the InterAjuda Project, through psychological accompaniment by telephone to our seniors.
Plural_Companhia de Dança is a project of the Casa das Artes, of the Fundação LIGA, which briefly celebrates 25 years in the service of inclusive dance. And as social isolation is not synonymous with the absence of cultural programming, we share the full recording of the dance show “NO SILÊNCIO DA PRIMEIRA ONDA” by Rafael Alvarez , BODYBUILDERS and Plura_Companhia de Dança. On stage seven dancers with and without disabilities, celebrate the human diversity by launching the challenge for a world and a stage increasingly plural. Enjoy.
In view of the new challenges that are imposed on daily life, the Center for Occupational Activities of the Fundação LIGA, has adopted new pedagogical, playful and therapeutic strategies. Information technologies now allow to enter clients’ homes through the elaboration of videos with stories, relaxation sessions, passive mobilisation, physical exercise and dance, in order to respond to the needs of each client, thus maintaining their quality of life and reducing their social isolation. Individual music therapy sessions by video call are also one of the strategies applied to minimise levels of anxiety. At the same time, there is a constant focus on close contacts, guaranteeing clients and families social and psychological support.
Our Spanish member FAMS wants to know the experiences of women who lead single-parent families and how this crisis is affecting them. You can find the form to submit on this webpage. Questions will be around how the measures are affecting you, what strategies are used to support the care of your child, what information do you have from your community about assistance and support for single-parent families?
Similarly, FFM Isadora Duncan has opened a thread on Facebook so that single-parent families with children can tell how they are living in these times and, above all, what problems they are encountering when it comes to reconciliation. With the data obtained from the comments on Facebook, they will have a more accurate view of the problems of single parenthood and reconciliation in serious emergencies. By collecting these experiences and opinions in a study, it can serve as an indicator and even help other single-parent families to better overcome this tremendous crisis, which is undoubtedly putting the social, political and health systems to the test.
FFM Isadora Duncan further created a guide to take care of your mental health. The tips from psychologist Elena San Mart include protective measures that help you to cope with the distressing situation, such as avoiding over-information, stay active or help each other.
Digital technologies and Internet accessibility is now more important than ever, especially in education! No one should be left behind! Our Spanish member calls providers to help vulnerable families and ensure universal access for children in Spain during the #COVID19 crisis.
A Salut I Familia will continue to provide all services free of charge by phone from now on. You can call to request attention in family planning, legal termination of pregnancy, training and employment counseling, legal advice and/or social and psychological support. More here.
In cooperation with Salut I Familia, b-resol offer now free service of psychological and social advice during the confinement aimed at adolescents, families, education and social action professionals. Access here: https://b-resol.com/
Salut I Familia published a report on Spanish policies to fight against COVID-19 crisis effects in families and general population. This report quotes separately the protection policies directed at families and those directed at the general population. The policies of the state government, the policies of the government of Catalonia and the policies of the Barcelona City Council have been included. In Spain during the Covid-19 epidemic, on the same territory all policies are applicable.
FIAPAS has created an important infographic with simple guidelines that facilitate and support communication with a person with deafness. It is meant for everyone, but especially health professionals who have to communicate with their patients. Another important advice is to keep in mind, that with masks it is not possible for the deaf person to read the lips and the speech is less clear. Difficulties are added and it is even more important that one makes sure that the deaf person is getting the message.
In case of hospitalisation, wherever possible, the deaf person should be facilitated to use his hearing prosthetic and provide batteries for its operation. Pay attention to optional indications regarding persons carrying an auditory implant (cochear or other).
You can download the ES infographic at: bit.ly/pautas-comunicacion-fiapas
or see it in English here: https://bit.ly/3cha01Q
Talking about a sensitive topic like COVID-19 with children who experience a hearing loss can be difficult as well. FIAPAS has thought of some tips that can facilitate communication and make the youngest ones understand the situation without making them feel overwhelmed.
See here (in ES): https://bit.ly/3bOKdh8