How are we already responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as a family of networks, and what can we do next?
It has been brilliant to see networks responding already, staying relevant and adapting to the new situations they face. Networks have been issuing good information, increasing connectedness with members and starting to identify the needs and the necessary responses to the most vulnerable.
Here are some of the key response activities we have seen so far, along with resources to support your network:
Continue to connect with network members – both to keep up-to-date with their situation and the needs they are facing and responding to, but also to offer mutual support and prayer.
- In Latin America regular zoom calls keep the networks in touch, and there has been a daily prayer meeting for networks.
- PCMN (Philippines) are in daily communication with members, sharing information, referring child welfare concerns and encouraging networks to offer psychological support
Sharing correct information – know the facts
Many networks have been using various social media channels to share correct messages and counter dangerous myths surrounding COVID-19. Ensure you have the latest information from the WHO website and your government guidelines. Also look at Viva’s Children in Emergencies website for advice and tools that we have put together.
- Viva Network Zimbabwe has produced a series of educational posters for children and adults in English and local language.
- Connect network in South Africa shared educational material on the importance of sanitizing and social distancing, provided through social media and WhatsApp.
- Networks in Asia are distributing posters around their cities with factual information on prevention to prevent spread of potentially dangerous false information.
Reaching the most vulnerable with urgent basic needs support
Many networks are doing what they can to provide food and other basic needs support to those in need within their network members and communities. If you are considering this type of response:
- Has your network tried to connect with local government or other relevant authorities to enable your network to offer assistance even in lockdown?
- How can you ensure you follow good practice and ‘do no harm’ in the way you deliver assistance? (More guidance to follow on this soon!)
- Are there other issues you might address at the same time as delivering basic needs assistance?
Self-care and preventing burnout
As we respond to this pandemic in our different cities, we need to ensure that we take care of ourselves so that we do not get exhausted and burn out quickly. What is your network doing to support one another?
Here are some ideas:
Adapting existing programmes
Are there ways we can adapt and continue programmes?
- In Mindanao (Philippines) the network is using radio broadcasts to ensure that they can still deliver training to displaced children in refugee camps there
- Viva India is developing an online child protection training tool for teachers and school staff
Responding to emerging child protection risks
It is important that as networks we consider the short term and long term impact of COVD-19 on children. Below are some emerging issues that we should be aware of. Can you think of ways your network might respond to any of these?
Children’s mental health and resilience: The impact of lockdown and losing family members, taking on additional caring responsibilities, and the changing world when the pandemic subsides will have an impact on children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
- Doorsteps UK are using zoom to facilitate online youth and children’s groups, enabling youth workers to support these young people’s mental health by checking in and providing that same social space, and a sense of continuity and routine.
Increased pressure on families and rise in domestic violence: Families will need extra support at this time.
- PCMN are promoting Viva’s Why Families Matter training with its network members. You can find all Viva’s family strengthening tools here.
Online exploitation and abuse: Increased time online and loss of livelihoods increase this risk.
Weakened child protection systems: Reporting and referrals are more difficult under lockdown and contact points with potentially vulnerable children are reduced. Can your network support these systems?
Do contact your network consultant to discuss areas where you need support, or send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org to upload to this site.
Additional tools and resources
- More international tools can be found on Viva’s Children in Emergencies Website page dedicated to responding to Covid-19