Barnardo’s have launched a bespoke service for Asian, Black, and minority ethnic children and families who might face challenges to their physical and mental health during this second lockdown.

The helpline will support children and families through therapeutic support, live web chat, while also bringing a lifeline to communities struggling to deal with issues such as sickness and bereavement, rising hate crime, and loss of support services, due to the pandemic

Known as Buloh meaning speak or invited to speak, the service will also provide advice, and support from trained specialist advisors and therapists who are from diverse backgrounds and aim to speak a range of languages. The helpline will also signpost queries to a range of different organisations such as Citizen Advice, which can help with families experiencing financial problems, and also to local community groups.

During the pandemic, so far Asian, Black, and minority ethnic children have suffered increased 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 their communities, while mental health, isolation and loneliness, and barriers back into education were some of the main reasons they have contacted Barnardo’s.

The Boloh helpline launched on 1 October in partnership with the National Emergencies Trust.  The helpline was launched thanks to grants from the COVID-19 Support Fund set up by industries.

Speaking about the helpline, Barnardo’s CEO, Javed Khan, said:

“I know from personal experience that families in Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Black people are four times more likely to die of the virus compared to white people, while COVID 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.”

 The worries by children and families are backed up by research by the Resolution Foundation that showed that shows Asian, black, and minority ethnic workers are more likely to be made unemployed post-furlough.

A survey of 6,000 adults found over one in five of Asian, Black and minority ethnic workers who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed in September, compared to 9% for the general population.

Recent research by the Financial Conduct Authority also shows that around 12 million people in Britain are likely to struggle with bills or loan repayments amid the continued economic disruption triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Those from Asian, Black, and minority ethnic backgrounds are most likely to be affected, with 37% within this group taking a financial hit to their income.