Peterborough NSPCC worker reflects on 25 years of helping youngsters in city - and the challenges COVID has brought

A Peterborough NSPCC worker has reflected on her 25 years of helping youngsters in the city, and the impact the pandemic has had on the charity.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 5:00 am
Su Wright

NSPCC Children’s Services Practitioner (CSP) Su Wright began her journey at the NSPCC 26 years ago and many things have changed in this time, but she says nothing compares to the changes brought on by the pandemic last year.

Su said: “It was actually 26 years ago that I started at the NSPCC, but my first year there I was actually in my last year of training to become a social worker and things were pretty different back then. Before then I worked in residential homes and with children who had disabilities.

“We operated a little differently back in 1995 too, obviously we still kept the same ethos of being there for children who need us and a lot of our services were similar. Like the Protect and Respect program, we ran workshops for children back then too, this helped them understand what healthy relationships are, but it just fell under a different name and obviously as the years have gone on we have continued to adapt how we work.

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“I’ve always said we learn as much from children as they do from us, sometimes I wonder if I’m learning more from them now especially when it comes to new technology and apps.”

Su said demand for the services had increased over the past year as the pandemic hit.

The NSPCC has had to work in different ways to help youngsters, who each have different needs, and workers have searched for different ways to help as many children as possible.

Su said: “Much has changed since then and whilst we are still here for children, at The Peterborough Service Centre our focus is local children and families and we have been incredibly busy due to the last year.

“In March, we were forced to quickly adapt to impending lockdown measures and we moved our regular service to an online offering as we were unable to meet children face-to-face at that time.

“As restrictions were lifted we were able to resume our essential face-to-face sessions and we had to prioritise those who were already on the top of our list. For many reasons, the virtual offer didn’t work for every child, some simply respond better to in-person interaction whilst others did not have access to a computer or if they did privacy was an issue and it can be difficult to open up to someone sat using a screen.

“Any child can face difficulties, but there is always something you can do and at the NSPCC our aim has always been to help the child move past certain experiences and help them to see the positivity in change. Mostly our job is to help the child change how these difficult experiences are managed and this comes from their own learning and support from their carers.

“One thing I have noticed in my time here is that children are very resilient and whilst they are still young and developing there is an opportunity for change at an earlier stage of life.

“It’s all about perspective and when children are supported at the time they need it most that can change their outlook instead of allowing 20-30 years to go by and all the horrors that come with those experiences to manifest. We are still here for children and we don’t want the fallout of this pandemic to shape the rest of their lives and that’s really why this last year has been different from the other 25 years I’ve been here.

“More children need us more than ever before, because we are all going through the same thing. We have also seen more local families become impacted by poverty due to job losses or furlough.

“I always said from a really young age ‘if I could make a difference, even just to one child’s life that will be worth it, I’ve achieved something wonderful in my life.’

“Sadly, home isn’t always a safe place, and COVID restrictions can increase the risk for children suffering abuse. It’s more vital than ever that we continue our work to protect children. We’re here through our helpline for adults with any concerns about a child. And we work in communities across the UK – supporting families under pressure and getting help to children who need it.

Over the past year, the NSPCC’s frontline services have been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have provided crucial funding during the pandemic for the charity’s Letting the Future In service. The funding has gone towards the salary costs of 10 specialist practitioners across the service centres throughout the UK for a year.