THE Home-Start in Cowdenbeath team have found the lockdown posing their families many challenges but working with them they are making a difference.

Susan Capaldi, Sharon Mitchell and Tracy McCann are photographed on an early morning Zoom meeting planning their day's programme and they have found many families happy to speak with them online during the current coronavirus crisis.

Susan said that they currently are supporting 50 families, with 40 of these having chosen video-one-to-one chats and/or group chats as a way of keeping in regular weekly touch, the others opting for regular text messages and or phone calls or a combination.

Added Susan: "Most of our families are finding the current crisis a challenge and we are making it our job to support them through this. Most families are now feeling bored, frustrated and at times lonely and isolated.

"They are worried about finances, their health and the health of those close to them .

"Sharon, Tracy and myself are reassuring our families that these emotions and feelings are simply normal and that this situation is temporary and for the majority of us these feelings will pass.

"Parents are sharing with us their worries and concerns and with them we are looking at strategies to manage our worries and deal with the uncertainties are part of this time of crisis. At times, our families are sharing with us their strategies for coping and we as workers are being supported with our own concerns and worries.

"We share practical planning tips and encourage families to take regular walks and go outdoors, emphasising the benefits of taking exercise in terms feeling mentally better".

She went on: "We are finding that having regular video calls with families, where all the family can join in if they are around, has been a ‘lifesaver’ for quite a few of our families.

"All three of us are working very flexibly throughout this pandemic, offering calls, texts and video calls to families into the evenings and weekends.

"For those of our parents who would like a chat outwith the earshot of their children, we are happy to provide this service. Based on the success of this, we may look at seeking additional funding to continue with this as things slowly return to a new ‘normal’.

"In addition to video chats, phone calls and text messaging, we are very active on our private Home-Start Parents Facebook Page. We do regular group Zoom Chats, recipe posts to encourage healthy eating and home cooking, post photos of outdoor walks, deliver and promote Bookbug sessions and play ideas. As we are becoming more experienced in this way of service delivery, we are continuing to review and extend this page as a method of families supporting families.

"Now that we are working towards phases of returning to a ‘normal’ we will be working on ‘hopeful strategies' with our families whilst still encouraging and supporting them to stick to the Government's guidelines and to still, at present, ‘Stay at Home’ if you can, and unless you go out for exercise or essentials".