“Working with families and vulnerable children can be very challenging – that’s why our service is called the ‘Intensive Home Support Service’. We give up to 25 hours of support to a family every week – everything from helping (parents/carers) get the kids ready in the morning, to picking them up from school and ensuring they are able to do their homework.

We are there to try and ensure that young people do not have to enter the care system. Children are nearly always better off living at home with their parents, so we are there to help the family to build the capacity to remain together.

The lockdown has meant that the nature of our work has definitely become more challenging – but not impossible. We have been doing practical things like shopping for families, but there are those who are struggling with even basic things like how to pay the bills, so we sometimes have to give them what they need for electricity and gas.

We’re also trying our best to keep the children linked in, using things like resource packs and arts and crafts. Where it’s safe to do so, we might do face-to-face contacts in people’s gardens. Video and phone calls are also an option, but some of the families we work with don't have tablets or phones.

That’s why the Hardship Appeal has such an important part to play in helping those who need it most. That support is needed right now, so whatever you can donate can go a long way towards keeping families as happy and healthy as possible during this very difficult time.”

 Extern’s Intensive Home Support Service, which provides intensive support, seven days a week, within a domestic setting, at times when families are in most need. The programme works on a 12-month cycle, with one staff member assigned to work alongside the parents, while another works with the children.

For details, visit www.extern.org/intensive-home-support-service