An Aberdeen charity has warned the effects of the pandemic on struggling and vulnerable families is likely to be long-lasting.
Home-Start has warned that, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, people will “probably” need their help even more going forward than they do currently.
It uses specially-trained volunteers to assist families going through crisis, and has raised concerns about deteriorating mental health, increased isolation and domestic abuse.
While it typically operates a home-visiting service, Home-Start has had to quickly adapt to providing remote support.
Mum-of-two Melanie Riley had been involved in a domestic abuse situation and suffered a head injury which left her with short-term memory issues.
She started receiving help from Home-Start last year.
“They are just so helpful and I know if I need to speak to anybody, I can pick up the phone,” she said.
Before the lockdown, the family would have a volunteer check in on them every week, offering all manners of support.
This even included working on arts and crafts projects with the kids, so Ms Riley had time to step away and prepare a family meal.
Amid the pandemic, Home-Start has moved its projects online, including a scheme to offer cooking classes and healthy eating advice.
Ms Riley said: “I find it really difficult to organise and plan meals because of my injury, but Fiona the volunteer will say ‘here’s a cookbook, have a look and tell me what you want to cook’.
“During the lockdown we have had fruit, veg and meat packages from them, and one with ingredients for baking – they are really helpful.
“They also sent us a package of plants with seeds to plant together with the kids, which was really nice.”
She added: “Just knowing there’s somebody there who knows me and can understand the situation we’re in makes a big difference.”
Home-Start has also been offering weekly sessions with crafts, songs and stories to help families bond and reduce isolation.
It is appealing for donations to help it keep up this level of support.
General manager Eleanor McEwan said: “We have been around in Aberdeen for a long time and in the future we will still be here.
“We’re working with families who were vulnerable before Covid-19 and who will continue to be, probably even more than they are now.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone and we want to make sure we can still deliver the same services to give families what they need.”