A CHARITY worker who has been supporting children and families in Tidworth for more than 15 years says this year has been the “most challenging and rewarding one yet”.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the NSPCC’s service centre on Drummer Lane, which would normally be bustling with expectant parents accessing the Pregnancy in Mind programme, and with children and young people benefitting from Seeking Solutions to help them achieve their goals.

In early March, like schools and offices, the NSPCC centre was forced to close its doors, leaving service users in limbo while they still required the support the charity provided.

After closing its doors, it became clear to Gail Jordan, who is a NSPCC Children’s Services Practitioner, and her colleagues that they needed to adapt to continue to offer its support services.

Gail, pictured below, who works on the Pregnancy in Mind service, said: “When the pandemic first arose, we had a Pregnancy in Mind group who were ready to go, we were literally a few days away from starting group sessions with them.

"It was concern for the service users which was at the forefront of our minds and very quickly after that we had a plan in place to do our services virtually.

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“In a virtual world, it was difficult at first, but we soon got used to it and worked around it. Everyone in the first virtual group appeared to be grateful that we were still offering something.

“When we told the service users that we would still be supporting them, albeit virtually, we could feel their relief that the support was still there. We run Seeking Solutions as well and that moved to virtual sessions and during those sessions the children spoke about coronavirus because in the beginning, no-one really knew anything about it.”

Reflecting on the year, Gail says she is proud of how the team have pulled together during the pandemic to ensure they are still there for people in and around the service centre.

Not only did they have to find a new way to deliver their services, but the centre staff also had to find new ways of working from home.

“I’m really proud of the team we have at the Tidworth Centre, they have worked really hard this year,” she added. “They’ve had to adapt quickly to make sure we can still offer services. What we didn’t want to do was stop supporting people, think about how we were going to move forward and then start again almost.

“We had to solve that problem and we are very much a problem-solving team. We haven’t had time to sit back and look at what we have done this year because we have been extremely busy with the services.

"I think we should all give ourselves a pat on the back for that because we haven’t reduced the availability of services – if anything we have probably delivered more Pregnancy in Mind this year than we have in previous years.”