Covid-19 presents new challenges for children and families in London. Over the last two weeks, everyone at West London Zone has been totally committed to responding to these.

We have been busy adjusting our personalised and flexible service so that we can support the 900 children and young people currently on our programme to the best of our ability in their new way of living, and to expand our delivery to help more children and young people.

Our priority, after protecting the health and safety of everyone in our network, is to prevent the virus derailing the children’s futures. Covid-19 is taking all of our lives on a detour, but we are determined to work as hard as we can to keep the longer-term prospects of children and young people on track.

This week, with immediate effect, we are introducing an adapted delivery model and are ready to expand our activity and the outreach of our unique network of trusted adults – WLZ Link Workers who know local children and their families really well - if capacity allows. Due to the pressure COVID-19 is placing on many families across London, WLZ has experienced an increased and immediate demand from parents/carers for help not just with their child(ren)’s needs, but with basic family needs too. Therefore, from this week forward our multiple service offer will include:

(i)   Virtual, online support for children and young peoples’ academic needs and wellbeing, including supporting school’s home learning packages
(ii)   Help for parents/carers in supporting their children and in accessing food, basic goods, housing, medical advice and information in different languages
(iii)   Physical presence and support by WLZ Link Workers for any children still in school, working alongside school staff (as far as social distancing /safety allows)
(iv)   Once the extent of support required in the above categories is clearer, possible additional support for local services and teams who have reduced workforces and are overwhelmed with the escalating numbers of families needing help.

Our work will continue to be centred in north Hammersmith, north Kensington, north Westminster and south Brent, working with children identified by WLZ, their schools, and other professionals, as those who would benefit most from additional support. This work will continue to be delivered by our WLZ Link Workers, usually based full time in one of the 33 school settings we currently work in and providing constant guidance and support for children and families, but now working both remotely and in some schools.

Ordinarily, the Link Worker’s role sees them designing and facilitating individual children’s 2-year programmes with specialist activities (such as sports, performing arts, therapy, counselling, additional tutoring and more) from over 40 partner charities working locally. Each child’s resulting plan focuses on their wellbeing, confidence and academic attainment and supports them to achieve their goals and build skills so that they can transform their lives and make their neighbourhoods better places for everyone in the longer term.

This focus will remain, but with a more diversified offer. As a local charity facilitating the delivery of activities in and outside of the school setting, our WLZ Link Workers have established trusted relationships with local families as well as an extensive local network of partners. These relationships, combined with our innovative and flexible delivery model will enable us to ensure our service meets the growing and changing demand for help, delivering what children and families really need to stay safe and to stay on track in the coming months.

One of our great strengths is our adaptability. Our support offer is designed to adapt to children’s different circumstances and schools’ varied contexts. Never has that flexibility been more important than it is today, enabling us to react quickly to deliver exactly the kind of support children and families need most right now, given their new life structure and environment.

Please do get in touch to find out more about our very much-needed work or to partner with us to provide the best support possible for children and families in our area in the coming months.

Louisa Mitchell
Chief Executive Officer
West London Zone