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Phoneline launched to protect children during coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 17:17 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 April 2020

Children who are unsafe at home are urged to call or text for help. Pic: Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Children who are unsafe at home are urged to call or text for help. Pic: Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Fears that vulnerable children and young people could be at risk because they are spending so much time at home during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the launch of a new phoneline where they can seek help.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The phoneline is the second phase of Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership’s county-wide campaign to keep children safe at home.

Last week, the county launched its See Something, Hear Something, Say Something campaign, calling on the public to look out for Norfolk’s children and report any concerns.

With schools closed to the majority of children and children unable to visit friends and extended family or go to their usual clubs it can be harder to spot those at risk.

Now, the partnership, backed by the Norfolk Resilience Forum, is letting Norfolk’s children and young people know they can get help, with a social media campaign promoting a new phone line and an extended texting service.

Children who feel unsafe at home are being urged to seek help. Pic: Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.Children who feel unsafe at home are being urged to seek help. Pic: Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.

The new phone number 0344 800 8029 will be staffed by children’s social workers at Norfolk County Council, who have training and experience of working with children.

They can also use the NHS texting service ChatHealth on 07480 635060, which is run by Norfolk Children and Young People’s Services, or call Childline on 0800 1111.

Children and young people will be able to contact the services if they are scared, or if they are worried about their friends or other young people.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “Home should be a safe place for children, and it is tragic that some children and young people will be feeling frightened and trapped at this time.

“We are here to help. If you are scared please call us or tell someone you trust. If you are worried about a child let us know – keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility.”

Members of the public are also being urged to call 0344 800 8020 if they have concerns about children.

Signs of concern could include aggressive or repeated shouting, hearing hitting or things being broken, children crying for long periods of time or very young children left alone or outdoors by themselves.

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