Baby milk and nappies shortage as coronavirus leaves vulnerable families even more isolated

Home-Start in Suffolk chief executive Tara Somers. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Home-Start in Suffolk chief executive Tara Somers. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

Vulnerable Suffolk families already left socially isolated by mental ill health, relationship breakdown and financial challenges could be pushed further into despair due to coronavirus, a charity has warned.

Home-Start in Suffolk, which offers emotional and practical support to parents to enable them to look after their children, said families had been left “scared” and “worried at the uncertainty” since the global pandemic.

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Some of those struggling financially have even found it difficult to get essentials for their children, like baby milk and nappies, following widespread panic buying across many county supermarkets.

“A lot of our families are not in a fortunate position where they can go to the supermarket and afford to buy extra,” warned family support manager Alison Grant.

“They operate on a week to week basis.

“They are not able to have reserves - they are not in that position.”

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The organisation, which supports approximately 500 families a year, said it had been forced to make a “difficult decision to pause our home-visiting and group services” from Wednesday.

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Instead it has been replaced by a telephone service and video support to ensure some sort of help is provided, with volunteers also dropping off any required supplies to those in need.

However with regular home visits becoming a lifeline for families suffering from mental ill health and anxiety, the charity has said it is worried about the long-term effect on the most vulnerable.

“We’ve got a lot of families who are already socially isolated for many reasons,” said Ms Grant.

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“If they’re suffering from anxiety, this heightens that anxiety.”

Those negative emotions can also have an impact on children, she added.

Home-Start in Suffolk chief executive Tara Somers said the temporary suspension of its home visiting service “is not a decision we make lightly”.

However she added: “The health and wellbeing of our volunteers is at the heart of any decision we make.

“We will be working to ensure, as are many of our partner Suffolk charities, to continue to support the needs of our counties vulnerable residents during this worrying time.”

The charity continues to appeal for donations to support vulnerable families.

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