A VITAL new service is being provided for Worcestershire children and young people who are missing out on support during the coronavirus pandemic.

See, Hear, Respond, managed by Barnardo’s and funded by the Department for Education, is a new programme offering online counselling, therapy and face-to-face support.

Anyone can refer a child or young person to the service, which is free and confidential.

It aims to provide a “lifeline” for children and young people who are victims of sexual and domestic abuse, criminal exploitation, those struggling with their mental health, children with special educational needs and disabilities, young carers, and those needing help with reintegrating back into school.

Barnardo’s regional director Hugh Sherriffe said: “The coronavirus pandemic has meant that vulnerable children and young people have been ‘hidden’ from vital support services.

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“Many have been suffering in silence and are in danger of being left behind if their needs are not met.

“That’s why Barnardo’s is leading a consortium of more than 30 charities to identify and support children at risk of harm.

“But for this to work, we need professionals – and anyone in contact with vulnerable children – to be our eyes and ears and refer those in need of help.

“Children have too often been unseen and unheard during this crisis and they risk becoming the forgotten victims.

“This initiative is a vital lifeline which will help them to navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, improving their long-term prospects so they can enjoy a successful future.”

A telephone and online referral service will refer any concerns about a vulnerable child to the local partner organisation best-placed to help.

For further information on the See, Hear and Respond service, visit www.barnardos.org.uk/see-hear-respond

Helplines are open Monday-Friday from 9am-9pm and at weekends from 10am-6pm. Call 0800 157 7015.