For many of us, the last twelve months have been undeniably stressful. Aside from homeschooling, there may also have been concerns over the health and wellbeing of our family and friends. These stresses can all take their toll and after a year of lockdowns, it’s perfectly understandable to have had feelings of isolation or anxiety.
Affinity always considers the wellbeing of the members of our Affinity Family as one of our top priorities and throughout the last year, we have worked to ensure that everyone has had regular contact with their dedicated support workers and social workers. However, we also know that sometimes our carers and their families need extra support from different sources, which is why all of our carers enjoy complimentary membership to FosterTalk.
FosterTalk is a fantastic organisation that can provide a wide range of services and support to foster carers. As members of FosterTalk, Affinity’s foster carers can access a host of readily available resources, including advice on safeguarding and exploitation, sign posting for counselling services, specialist foster carer support and advice and financial and legal advice services. FosterTalk also provide training and member discounts for high street shopping and family days out. We believe FosterTalk membership is a valuable resource which provides independent and non-judgemental advice and support at any time of day or night.
Other sites that have a wealth of resources include Mind, which has a website packed with information about mental health and wellbeing. With an aim to inform and educate about all aspects of mental health, the resources range from in depth information on mental health conditions to first-hand stories and experiences. For the young people in our care there are YoungMinds and The Mix. The Mix is a supportive website aimed at under 25s who are concerned about their mental health. They also operate a 24/7 text message service which is simply accessed by texting THEMIX to 85258. Childline also provides its well-known phone support service for children and young people and has online games designed to help with anxiety and stress.
For young people who may be having deeper personal struggles, or who are considering harming themselves, Papyrus has a resources page that contains safety plans, coping strategies and distraction techniques, while Kooth (free to join and only requires a postcode) provides free, safe and anonymous online counselling.
And did you know that the NHS has an apps library? It’s literally a library of mental health apps that are approved by the NHS and that can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet. Many of them are free and the library contains apps that are specifically aimed at children and young people.
Of course, applying these tools should always be discussed with your supervising social worker to ensure their suitability first, and if there are safeguarding concerns, these should be raised with your social worker asap. We are here to support our foster carers and young people; and will do all we can to get the right resources and advice to you. We always work as a team and Affinity ensures there is always a qualified social worker available to talk to, 24/7 and 365 days a year.
We can all be sure that the days will get longer, the weather will become warmer, and with Covid restrictions hopefully due to ease over the coming months, life will begin to return to some kind of normality. However, it’s always handy to have these resources and reminders to hand, pandemic or no pandemic.