Wed 1 Apr 20
Child psychology and social work experts from the University of Essex have stepped in at short notice to support programme A Better Start Southend (ABSS) to produce a child-friendly explanation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pip’s Guide to COVID-19 combines fun activities with informative, child-friendly content to ensure very young children understand and are reassured about Coronavirus and the change in their daily routines.
Led by Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis, from the University’s School of Health and Social Care, the research team provided expert advice on the guide’s accessibility, safety and impact from a developmental psychology perspective.
Professor Ioakimidis explained: “Our intention was to inform families, reassure children and avoid prompting unwarranted anxiety about the virus. It has been a great opportunity for experts at the University and A Better Start Southend to work together on such a timely and important project.”
The booklet, which was inspired by a similar initiative from the charity Mind Heart Kids, has been received well by Southend parents and ABSS partners, who have been sharing it across the borough so it can reach as many families as possible.
ABSS is part of a ten-year test and learn programme aiming at transforming ways of thinking about services for very young children. Its main objectives are to improve children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development and speech, language and communication.
The programme is funded by the National Lottery Community and is working with a number of strategic partners in the region including the University of Essex, Southend Borough Council, Southend Police and Southend NHS Trust.
Professor Ioakimidis is leading the University’s role in the partnership, which involves conducting research, evaluating service delivery and generate knowledge that will positively impact on the lives of families in Southend.