A much-needed helpline supporting vulnerable Black, Asian and minority ethnic children and families, who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, will be launched on Thursday 1 October by children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The first of its kind in the UK, the helpline, therapeutic support, and live webchat facility will offer a lifeline to communities struggling to deal with issues such as sickness and bereavement and rising hate crime due to the pandemic

The support service is the result of a new partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, whose funds are ring-fenced to target specific at-risk groups across the UK. The £900,000 grant will be drawn from £20 million pledged to the Coronavirus Appeal by the COVID-19 Support Fund. The Fund aims to support those hardest-hit by COVID-19, including families and children living in poverty.

The charity’s frontline workers have supported an increased number of young people from the BAME community during lockdown, which was behind the reasoning to launch the service.

Statistics show Black people are over four times more likely to die from COVID-19 related illnesses than white people of the same age. And nearly double the number of children from Black and Asian families are in poverty compared with white children. These children are 1.5 times more likely to be young carers, with little access to support over the last six months, leaving many to fall behind at school.

Barnardo’s CEO, Javed Khan, said: “As thousands of vulnerable children and families across the UK bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, the urgent need for specialist advice and support has never been greater.

“I know from personal experience that families in Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities have been hit hardest by the virus. Black people are four times more likely to die of the virus compared to white people, while the pandemic and recession are worsening existing inequalities. As a result, children are suffering bereavement, mental health problems and fear for the future – yet many remain hidden from essential support services and have been left to suffer in silence.

 “Our new helpline for children and families is the first of its kind, offering a UK-wide support service to help these families tackle a unique and complex range of issues.

 “Barnardo’s is proud to be at the forefront of responding to the challenges faced by vulnerable children and young people. In these uniquely challenging times, we are working in partnership with Government, business and other charities to support those who need us most.”

Barnardo’s knows from its ‘See, Hear, Respond’, therapeutic support service in England funded by the Department of Education, that BAME children have suffered increasing levels of trauma, and are afraid for their futures, their families and communities due to the pandemic.

Three quarters of these children, young people and families reported an increase in discrimination and hate crime within schools and communities, while mental health, isolation and loneliness, and barriers back into education were the main reasons for contacting the service.

If you feel you need help, you can reach Barnardo’s new specialist line on 0800 151 2605 or visit or visit https://helpline.barnardos.org.uk