We have been collaborating on a truly extraordinary programme with national children’s charity Barnardo’s. The See, Hear, Respond Partnership, funded by the Department for Education, was established to quickly identify and support children, young people and families struggling to cope with the impact of coronavirus and to provide early intervention.

 As a coalition of national and local partners of varying sizes, together we have supported 63,000 children and young people. For the Women’s Inclusive Team our work with families has seen us engage with over 400 children and young people from the Somali community in Tower Hamlets.

Our team has been providing support online to children and families who are struggling, including identifying children at risk of harm and exploitation outside of the home, while supporting children to successfully reintegrate back into school or college. Increasingly, we have provided activities to support the wellbeing of our children and their families.

With one month left, it has been a time of reflection. Barnardo’s CEO, Javed Khan, has provided his thoughts on the learning from the See, Hear, Respond, partnership, highlighting the need for collaborative delivery models to be in place long after the pandemic ends.

And it’s true. We know as a locally grown, Black, Somali-led, women’s charity, that from the start of this partnership, we were set up for success. This has been our first experience of having a properly resourced community provision, where our strength as an agile, trusted, relationship-holder has been recognised. The other distinct difference for us in working on  this initiative has been the non-competitive approach, bringing together organisations to deliver with a shared purpose.

Alongside Barnardo’s, it is also our hope for the legacy of the See, Hear, Respond, to continue to highlight the significant role of grassroots front-line organisations, such as the Women’s Inclusive Team, and our need to be mobilised through funding and support. We need to be part of the pathway as a member of the recovery, not as the afterthought.

Through the pandemic and this incredible partnership, we have demonstrated what is possible when everyone around the table has a common aim, a sense of urgency, and is treated with parity.

Our heartfelt thanks to the leadership demonstrated by Barnardo’s during the pandemic, to the amazing partners delivering up and down the country, and for supporting us in reaching over 400 children and young people in our Tower Hamlets community.

We will continue to position the need to work more through partnerships where true parity, resource and a shared purpose is central. As we all continue to address the gaps in services now further exposed through the pandemic, we will continue to support our children and young people facing crisis.

Zoe Portlock is the development lead at WIT.