Looking for help and advice? Contact our friendly Care Advice Line. Freephone 0800 023 2033 or for more info. click here.

We understand that lots of care-experienced young people might be feeling anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19). Things can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you don’t have family around to talk to.

It’s important to remember that this is completely normal – many of us are feeling the same way and you’re not alone.

At Become, we’re here for you. If you’ve got questions about the impact of coronavirus on the care you’re receiving, want some personal advice, or just need someone to talk to, you can get in touch with us on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

See below for our top tips to calm anxiety and feel less isolated, as well as answers to some questions you might have around coronavirus as someone in or leaving care.

 

It’s important that everyone follows the latest guidelines from the NHS on coronavirus and staying at home. Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages - even if you do not have any symptoms. You should only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work. Stay 2 metres away from other people and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

If you’ve got a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay at home for 7 days. If someone you’re living with develops symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days as it’s safest for you and those around you.

 

FAQs

If you’re in care and you develop any of the coronavirus symptoms (see here), you should tell whoever is caring for or supporting you as soon as possible, such as your foster carer(s) or a member of staff your children’s home. They will be able to make sure your social worker knows too and come up with a plan to best support you and any other children you’re living with. If you're living more independently (e.g. in supported accommodation), you should also contact your social worker directly. 

If you’ve left care and you’re living independently, you should tell your personal adviser as soon as possible (e.g. by phone, text or however you would normally contact them outside of face-to-face meetings) so they can arrange to support you. 

We don’t know yet how many people will become ill as a result of coronavirus, but it might mean that the professionals supporting you, such as social workers, personal advisers or children’s home staff, are less available than normal if they’re unwell.

It's likely that meetings you had scheduled with the professionals supporting you are disrupted or need to be rescheduled. You might find it takes longer for you to get answers to questions or help from your social worker or personal adviser.

Regular family time or contact will temporarily need to be arranged by phone or through things like FaceTime or Skype rather than face-to-face. 

However, remember that these difficulties will likely be temporary as people recover. Those supporting and caring for you will be doing their best to make sure you get the help you need. If you’re really worried about a particular problem and you don’t feel you’re getting enough support, you can always contact our advice team on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

Schools and colleges have closed to most pupils. However, some children can continue going to school if they need to - including children in care and those who receive support from social workers, and pupils with parents who do specific jobs. 

If you’re in care, then your carers, social worker, teachers and staff from the Virtual School will make sure your education continues in some way. You might be asked to continue attending school or you might start learning at home with help from your carers and the adults supporting you.

Exams for qualifications such as GCSEs, BTECs and A Levels will no longer take place. The government has announced that grades will be awarded based on things like your teachers' predictions and mock exams, but there'll also be a chance to sit exams at the beginning of the new school year in September too. 

Most universities have chosen to close and suspend their teaching. We know that care-experienced students are likely to be particularly affected by things like closures, especially if you live independently on a university campus for example.

It could feel quite lonely on campus if other students have returned to their homes, so reach out to friends, your Students’ Union and student support staff for advice. Our website propel.org.uk lists the named contacts for care-experienced students at most colleges and universities offering higher education in the UK if you're not sure who to contact.

The government has asked universities and colleges to make sure that certain groups, including care leavers and estranged students, get the support they need during the coronavirus outbreak. This should include guaranteed access to appropriate accommodation, continued access to financial support, access for a named contact and access to student support services.

Those who can have been asked to work from home, but this isn’t possible for everyone. You might be worried about being able to continue working or accessing benefits if you can’t work. The government has announced new plans to make it easier for people to claim sick pay and get benefits, and there’s lots of good advice online. If you’ve got worries about money or you need some help understanding what you’re entitled to – such as Universal Credit – you can always get in touch with our team on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

Our tips to calm anxiety and stay connected

Whilst some things are outside of our control, there are lots of positive steps you can take to boost your mental wellbeing and make sure you keep connected to those who are important to you.

Take a break from the news or social media

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by what you read, see and hear, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time you spend scrolling. Stick with trusted sources for information. Remember - you’re in control of your media habits, so instead of reading another Twitter thread or watching yet another Insta story about isolating, consider doing something which makes you happy like watching a film or chatting to a friend.

Talk to people

It’s important to make some time to speak with your friends and loved ones, especially when many of us will be staying at home. This might require a little more planning than normal but reducing physical contact doesn't have to mean reducing social contact.

Make use of technology

Thankfully, there are lots of great options to help you stay connected with those who matter most to you. WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and other apps are great ways of remaining in touch with others even if you’re unable to meet up face-to-face. Having the opportunity to see the other person through video chatting can be better than just relying on texts or calls.

Prepare and plan

If you do find yourself with symptoms, or if someone else you live with develops symptoms, then you’ll need to stay at home for a short while. You can help reduce any worry by planning for this now – you might want to chat with the professionals supporting you about things like food shopping or setting up somewhere for you to work or study. You might find it helpful to stick with as normal a routine as possible, but also recognise that staying at home might provide some new opportunities – consider making a list of all of those tasks you’ve put off or things you’ve wanted to try but haven’t found the time yet, like learning a new skill via YouTube or perfecting that cake recipe.

Get in touch for extra support

If you think you’d appreciate some extra help or advice, there are lots of people and organisations out there who can help. Our Care Advice Service is here for you on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk. You don’t need to have a question about care – you might just want to chat with someone for a little while. YoungMinds, a charity supporting children and young people’s mental health, has a helpful list of other services you might find useful.