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Family Wellbeing in North Glasgow

Posted June 23rd 2020 by Kate

Through our ‘Families Wellbeing’ project we’re hearing from a range of different families across Scotland about the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing and what they have found to be helpful.

This blog shares the experiences of New Scots families living in Royston, North Glasgow and how accessing safe, socially distant outdoor play sessions has supported their wellbeing. The weekly play sessions, developed by Margaret and Laura from the Glasgow Life Family Learning Team, are held in the local school playground and makes great use of this currently unused space.

Lack of outdoor space

Many families don’t have easy access to the outdoors – no gardens, balconies or sunny doorsteps. Parents have to take their children through busy communal spaces like tight corridors and small lifts where it’s very hard to social distance.

“Three-years olds don’t understand that they can’t touch doors and hand-rails and it’s not possible to clean everything after every use. You really need to be washing everyone’s hands when you’ve left the building”.

This makes getting outside into something that is so stressful that many families have stopped leaving their own flat.

“We were very scared to take the children out. The children hadn’t been out for over 2 months. This is the best thing. It feels safe here when we come. This is our only time out and it is really good.”

Lack of translated information

For families who use English as an additional language it can be really difficult to find access to the information they need. There is an overload of information in our communities and on our social media – but what is correct, relevant and up to date? This becomes even more challenging when it’s not in your preferred language. Families have lots of questions but aren’t sure where to go to get the answers.

“Keeping in touch was so helpful. At this time of pandemic we felt panic. I was able to ask questions and was able to text or talk and it helped to calm us and for us to feel safe.”

Lack of digital access

Lots of the families don’t have good access to the internet. They are without broadband at home and rely on their mobile internet if they have a smartphone. Many of the families use pre-paid top-ups which makes this a very expensive way to access digital information. It also means that they are less likely to access the peer-support that is available online through platforms like Zoom and Facebook. At a time when so much of our communication and information is online this puts these families and their children at a real disadvantage.

“Difficult when you do not have internet to get good information. We got good information on how to stay safe and on things available and how to stay positive. It was good to have someone outside the house to speak to. On my own with my child – it helped mentally for me. “

Impact on family wellbeing

All of these challenges, combined with the day-to-day stress of COVID-19 and lockdown, have left many families feeling incredibly stressed and upset.

“In March I wasn’t sleeping and I was crying a lot. I kept thinking I was going to die. I was very depressed. Seeing Margaret and Laura was good. I wasn’t going anywhere because I was so scared. The play sessions helped me to feel safe outside and to feel better. “

How have the play sessions helped?

“We knew it would be great for these families to have some time outdoors in a way that felt safe and manageable for them so we developed family play sessions”.

These sessions are held in the school playground – safe, outdoor space that’s familiar for children and parents. Each family is also given their own play pack that isn’t shared with anyone else – chalks, bubbles, skipping ropes etc. One family at a time are invited to meet 2 members of the family support team at the school playground. One member of staff sets-up activities and games for the children while the other chats to the parents, listens to any worries and shares any information they have. While maintaining social distancing this gives children and their parents some comfort, normality and reassurance. It gives the families a reason to get outside when it’s a challenging and stressful thing to do, it’s somewhere to go to where they will see a friendly face and get a bit of support.

We would like to thank the families and staff at Glasgow Life’s Family Learning Team for sharing their experiences and ideas with us. They can be contacted by emailing Margaret at: gw20ramseymargaret@glowmail.org.uk

For more information about the Families Wellbeing project which is funded by The #WellbeingFund please contact Louise or visit the project page on our website.

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