Barnardo’s will help distribute £7m of coronavirus funding from the government to children’s charities.
The money has been made available by the Department for Education, and comes from the government’s £750m support package announced in April.
Barnardo’s said the fund, which will finance a scheme called See, Hear, Respond, will open for expressions of interest from partner charities “in the coming weeks”.
See, Hear, Respond will focus on providing support for vulnerable children, including those under 5, children with special educational needs, children at risk of exploitation, children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and young carers, according to a statement from the charity.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has meant that vulnerable children and young people are increasingly hidden from support services. With the support of the Department for Education, Barnardo’s will bring together a coalition of national and local charities working together to identify and support those who need support at this time of crisis.
“This initiative is a vital lifeline for the thousands of children and young people as we navigate the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath, helping to improve their long-term outcomes so they can have successful futures.”
Vicky Ford, children and families minister, said: “By working with charities directly supporting these young people on the front line, we can expand their reach to provide a much wider safety net to those in need of mental health support, counselling or protection from people trying to exploit them, as well as helping to get them safely back into education.”
Labour: Charities are 'the poor relation'
Labour's shadow minister for civil society, Rachael Maskell, has demanded “a full charity rescue package” from the government to help the sector deal with the crisis.
Speaking in a debate in parliament yesterday, Maskell said: “Voluntary and community organisations are desperately financially fragile, caused by loss of revenue, fundraising and all other forms of income, with many not qualifying for grants and loans but still having significant outgoings, while demand on them escalates.
“They face a precipice, demanding cuts to vital research, services and support or closure. They are beyond the point of warm words or pennies dropped in the tin. They desperately need a full charity rescue package.
“When billions are being spent elsewhere, charities are the poor relation. They need further guarantees now.”
Speaking for the government, Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure, pointed charities towards the existing £750m in funding, as well as the business schemes accessible to some voluntary organisations.
Warman praised “the vital work that charities do” and acknowledged the “immensely challenging times” facing the sector, but did not commit to any new funding.
The government also faced pressure from MPs from their own party, with former minister Stephen Hammond asking for more support to help “a number of local and national arts charities [which] are experiencing real problems”.
Warman said that the government was “working closely with the Arts Council to consider what additional support may be needed for the long-term recovery of the sector in the future”.