Looking for help and advice? Contact our friendly Care Advice Line. Freephone 0800 023 2033 or for more info. click here.

We understand that lots of care-experienced young people might be feeling anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19). Things can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you don’t have family around to talk to.

It’s important to remember that this is completely normal – many of us are feeling the same way and you’re not alone.

At Become, we’re here for you. If you’ve got questions about the impact of coronavirus on the care you’re receiving, want some personal advice, or just need someone to talk to, you can get in touch with us on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

See below for our top tips to calm anxiety and feel less isolated, as well as answers to some questions you might have around coronavirus as someone in or leaving care. If you're a care leaver, you can also view the COVID-19 factsheets on the Care Leaver Covenant website.

FAQs

First of all - don't worry. Remember that the majority of children and young people don't experience severe symptoms, and there are lots of people who are around to help you if you feel unwell. 

If you’re in care and you develop any of the coronavirus symptoms (see here), you should tell whoever is caring for or supporting you as soon as possible, such as your foster carer(s) or a member of staff your children’s home. They will be able to make sure your social worker knows too, arrange for you to get a test, and come up with a plan to best support you and any other children you’re living with depending on the result. 

If you're living more independently (e.g. in supported accommodation), you can speak to your key worker as well as contact your social worker directly. 

If you’ve left care and you’re living independently, you should tell your personal adviser as soon as possible (e.g. by phone, text or however you would normally contact them outside of face-to-face meetings) so they can arrange to support you and ensure you get a test. You can find out more about COVID-19 testing here.

Whilst the impacts of the pandemic continue, it might mean that the professionals supporting you, such as social workers, personal advisers or children’s home staff, are less available than normal. 

Meetings with your social worker or personal adviser may still continue to take place over the phone or online, although more and more meetings are starting to happen face-to-face again. You might find it takes a bit longer for you to get answers to questions or help from those supporting you. 

Regular family time or contact may continue to be arranged by phone or video call, although this is beginning to happen face-to-face again too. 

However, remember that any difficulties you experience are likely to reduce as people and systems recover and local authorities and other services get better at adapting how they do things. Those supporting and caring for you will be doing their best to make sure you get the help you need.

If you’re worried about something and you don’t feel you’re getting enough support, or you don't feel you're being listened to and you want to know your rights, you can always contact our advice team on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

The government's plan is for schools and colleges to reopen fully at the start of the new term in September.  

However, things are unlikely to be exactly the same as before. Schools and colleges are currently preparing plans to make the return to school as safe as possible. This means that some schools might ask some groups of older pupils to wear face masks in school corridors, for example. 

If you’re in care, then your carers, social worker, teachers and staff from the Virtual School will make sure your education continues according to what's best for you.

If you've received a grade for your GCSEs, BTECs, A Levels or another qualification and you don't think this result has been calculated fairly or there's been a mistake, you can appeal. There's also be a chance to sit exams at the beginning of the new school year in September too. Read here for further information and speak to your social worker, personal adviser or school if you're unhappy.  

Some pupils and care leavers are able to get access to IT equipment (such as tablets and laptops) and internet connections if you don't have them already. This is to support online learning and keep you connected with the professionals supporting you and others. You should contact your social worker or Personal Adviser if you need technology support (e.g. a laptop or tablet you can work from or better internet access). 

At the moment, it might feel lonely on campus if other students have returned to their homes, so reach out to friends, your Students’ Union and student support staff at your university for advice. Our website propel.org.uk lists the named contacts for care-experienced students at most colleges and universities offering higher education in the UK if you're not sure who to contact.

The government has asked universities and colleges to make sure that certain groups, including care leavers and students without family support, get the help they need during the coronavirus outbreak. This should include guaranteed access to appropriate accommodation, continued access to financial support, access for a named contact and access to student support services. Speak to your Personal Adviser and the named contact at your college or university if you're struggling with money, accommodation, your studies or anything else.

Universities are making their own plans for teaching and reopening where it's safe to do so in the autumn. If you're continuing your studies or starting a new course this year, you should get information directly from your university, but speak with your Personal Adviser or the named contact at your university if you're unsure. It's likely that the first term at the very least will look quite different to normal, with lots of online teaching, but this will vary between courses and institutions. 

Those who can have been asked to work from home, but this isn’t possible for everyone. You might be worried about being able to continue working or accessing benefits if you can’t work.

The government has made it easier for people to claim sick pay and get benefits, and there's also been an uplift in the standard allowance for Universal Credit.

The government has also introduced a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where you can be placed on temporary leave (known as furlough) by your employer. There's also a similar scheme for those who are self-employed.

If you’ve got worries about money or you need some help understanding what you’re entitled to – such as Universal Credit – you can always get in touch with our team on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

Weekly Link-Ups

We are hosting regular Link-Ups for care-experienced young people, which includes quizzes, games, debates and virtual ‘hangouts’ where young people can come together via video to talk, gain peer support and raise each other’s spirits. For further information and to get involved, you can contact Tasha on 07393 721212 or click below to send an email.

  

It’s important that everyone follows the latest guidelines from the NHS on coronavirus and staying at home and reads the social distancing guidance for young people.

Everyone must stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages - even if you do not have any symptoms. You should work from home if you can, limit contact with other people and follow the guidelines. Stay 2 metres away from other people where possible and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

If you’ve got a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay at home for 10 days. If someone you’re living with develops symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days as it’s safest for you and those around you.

 

 

 

  

Our tips to calm anxiety and stay connected

Whilst some things are outside of our control, there are lots of positive steps you can take to boost your mental wellbeing and make sure you keep connected to those who are important to you.

Take a break from the news or social media

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by what you read, see and hear, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time you spend scrolling. Stick with trusted sources for information. Remember - you’re in control of your media habits, so instead of reading another Twitter thread or watching yet another Insta story about isolating, consider doing something which makes you happy like watching a film or chatting to a friend.

Talk to people

It’s important to make some time to speak with your friends and loved ones, especially when many of us will be staying at home. This might require a little more planning than normal but reducing physical contact doesn't have to mean reducing social contact.

Make use of technology

Thankfully, there are lots of great options to help you stay connected with those who matter most to you. WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and other apps are great ways of remaining in touch with others even if you’re unable to meet up face-to-face. Having the opportunity to see the other person through video chatting can be better than just relying on texts or calls.

Prepare and plan

If you do find yourself with symptoms, or if someone else you live with develops symptoms, then you’ll need to stay at home for a short while. You can help reduce any worry by planning for this now – you might want to chat with the professionals supporting you about things like food shopping or setting up somewhere for you to work or study. You might find it helpful to stick with as normal a routine as possible, but also recognise that staying at home might provide some new opportunities – consider making a list of all of those tasks you’ve put off or things you’ve wanted to try but haven’t found the time yet, like learning a new skill via YouTube or perfecting that cake recipe.

Get in touch for extra support

If you think you’d appreciate some extra help or advice, there are lots of people and organisations out there who can help. Our Care Advice Service is here for you on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk. You don’t need to have a question about care – you might just want to chat with someone for a little while. YoungMinds, a charity supporting children and young people’s mental health, has a helpful list of other services you might find useful.