We at MASKK wanted to give a brief update on the work we have been undertaking since March. It has been a ‘different’ seven weeks than our norm, adapting to a new way of working and continuing to support children and families the best we can. Our charity provides a variety of regular services and activities that have all had to change and adapt quickly, below is a quick update regarding our projects:
Despite the government announcement regarding schools and nurseries opening for more children on 1st June, our childcare (after school and holidays) will remain closed until further notice. This is a difficult decision to make but sadly due to significant financial losses since March we can not sustain our service ongoing with the very limited number of year groups and children that will be in school. We will be in touch with families who use our childcare later this week with more details.
Sheffield City Council contract MASKK to provide these regular face to face Saturday and Holiday clubs for children with SEND. Although they have significantly reduced how much they are willing to pay MASKK, they continue to contribute to currently enable us to support the 29 children and families they referred. Although our face to face short breaks for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities have not taken place since March, we didn’t want the children and families to feel forgotten. We know that children with SEND often face additional anxieties and challenges when change occurs. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges this country has faced in modern times, and for many children a difficult time adapting to a large number of fast changes.
To support families at this time Jo has been using phone calls and texts, and parents can call her anytime. Jo has been able to offer a listening ear and has been able to offer additional support through external referrals. For example getting to the shops when you live alone with your child who doesn’t understand social distancing can be a challenge and so we’ve been able to work with Hope Foundation to have hampers delivered to families, in addition to essential supplies MASKK have been able to purchase affordably from In-Kind Direct for us to give to families.
The main aim of our Short Breaks is to provide positive experiences for children with SEND while allowing their parents/carers to have a little rest. In lock down this isn’t as simple, but what Craig has been able to do is deliver Packs of Play to each of our Short Break families. These packs have varied based on the child’s needs but have included a variety of activities and distractions to engage their child without having to be constantly think on their feet. We’ve sent out slime, puzzles, lolly makers, arts & crafts, cuddly toys and more and we so happy to hear from parents who have sent photos and stories of their child enjoying the packs.
MASKK would normally be hosting our regular Active Kids and in the holidays our picnics, stay and plays and more. Sadly until gathering in large groups is once again safe these have been paused. But it doesn’t mean we stopped caring!
This part of our work is currently unfunded but thanks to donations from Matrec and Great Places we have been able to promote and support play from afar. We’ve created the Play Packs above for children with SEND and in addition to the families supported by our Short Breaks, we’ve been able to send an additional 18 so far to other children in our community who would benefit. Bringing smiles as we go.
We have also created 250 Activity Packs that include a variety of crafty resources and ideas to help pass the time and stay active. In the coming week we launch our next one too promoting spending positive time outdoors and more challenging crafts for the ‘not so grown ups’ amongst us.
These have been available to order on our website at www.maskk.org.uk/shop/ and we’ve sent them as far as Hook. Families can order one and pay for postage to be sent to their home, adding extras like crayons and paints. But we’ve made the online shop Pay As Feel, enabling local families to change it to 0 and select free hand delivery to remove finance as a barrier. We are grateful to those who have added a donation to enable us to purchase more supplies to make more. If you’ve not ordered one please take a look, there are still some left and please do select £0 if you need a free one! We are all facing different challenges at this time.
Like many charities MASKK is facing financial difficulties and we will know more as time goes on. We sadly have been turned down for some of the grants we applied to, still await decisions from some and are waiting for others such as Children In Need to open for applications. But what is clear is we will need to look for support in the short term and so we have set up donation opportunities on Facebook and later this month will launch a crowd funder appeal supported by Aviva. If you or a business you work for are able to offer support you can click donate on the menu above or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
You can help at no cost to you though to, please visit https://movementforgood.com/#nominateACharity and nominate MASKK for an Ecclesiastical Movement for Good award. Using our Charity Number 1131388, the more nominations we get, the greater our chance of winning, so please spread the word.
That’s it for now but please continue to check our Facebook and Instagram for more regular updates including some great photos and ideas of local places to visit sent to us from our team.